On Sunday, December 5, Saudi Arabia will host the Formula One Grand Prix Saudi Arabia for the first time. Justin Bieber, along with A$AP Rocky and Jason Derulo, will be giving a concert at the race.
However, the announcement of the performance was met with heavy criticism as critics from around the world are calling for Bieber and other artists to cancel their appearances.
In addition, a number of human rights organizations continue to put pressure on F1’s decision to hold races in Saudi Arabia in the first place. Here is the summary of the situation.
Why do people want the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix concert to be cancelled?
Saudi Arabia has a long and recent record of human rights abuses. Women activists and journalists are among the groups most targeted by the Saudi government, with some killed or locked up in reported abuses including torture, incarceration, and detention. unlawful and unfair trial, as reported by CBC.
The country’s ongoing history with ongoing human rights abuses has prompted repeated calls to action to cancel marching events in Saudi Arabia, including but not limited to F1.
As far back as a few years ago, Saudi Arabia hosted sporting events or concerts that were supposed to distract the global population from focusing on human rights injustices perpetrated by the government. For example, the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix concert is called a way to “sportswash” or “whitewash” the country’s record of human rights abuses.
“I think it’s clear that Justin Bieber and other celebrities are being used by Saudi Arabia to deflect the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator,” said Farida Deif, Foundation Director Canada Human Rights Watch said. through the Present.
Across Los Angeles, Bieber’s home city, vans and vans have been criss-crossing lately with electronic signs beside him begging Bieber to cancel his show.
The fiancee of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi – killed by Saudi authorities in 2018 – wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “Please, Justin Bieber, don’t perform for the regime that killed my fiance.” In the clip, Hatice Cengiz begs Bieber and other performers to cancel their events in Saudi Arabia.
“Cancel your December 5 performance in Saudi Arabia. This is a unique opportunity to send a strong message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore your reputation. the reputation of a regime has killed its critics,” Cengiz said, via The Washington Post. “Do not sing for those who killed my beloved Jamal. Please speak up and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions.”
Saudi Arabia spends big to organize big sports events
This weekend’s race and the spectacle that comes with it continue a plan being enacted by the Saudi government.
In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is estimated to spend $1.5 billion on this “sporty makeover” by launching his Vision 2030 plan. According to a report by the human rights organization, Grant Liberty. By hosting more events in Saudi Arabia, from golf and tennis tournaments, chess championships to horse races, Salman hopes to reduce the country’s dependence on exports. oil. However, the plan has received a lot of criticism from human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.
So the F1 race won’t be the first major event held recently in Saudi Arabia, and it most likely won’t be the last. The country has hosted the Spanish Super Cup soccer tournament twice in the past three years, along with hosting the Saudi Arabia International golf tournament since 2019.
“Celebrating human achievement in sport [could] Deif said.
Other celebrities have recently canceled their events in Saudi Arabia, including Nicki Minaj and John Cena, due to similar backlash.
Concerts performed by Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey and 50 Cent, also held in Saudi Arabia recently, have all received similar backlash from fans.
What does Formula 1 say about criticism?
Formula1 head Stefano Domenicali was asked for his thoughts on the possibility of canceling events in countries like Saudi Arabia that have a record of human rights abuses. Domenicali said he has no plans to cancel these F1 events as he thinks their presence will help accelerate progress on abandoning human rights abuses.
“Such an important change cannot happen overnight. It is a cultural change that will take time,” Domenicali said. “But time will be sped up by the fact that there are big events. And Formula 1 will play an important role in that respect.”
Domenicali said he believes canceling events will only lead to negative outcomes and that to help end injustices, Saudi Arabia needs an international sporting presence.
“I believe the attention we are bringing will benefit the will and desire for change that these countries are showing. I don’t believe in shutting down countries and saying we don’t want to. being there will help the situation to improve. Actually, it will be the opposite,” Deomenicali said. “It doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but certainly what we’re doing and what we’ve signed is on the right track.”
THAN: F1 schedule in 2021
Lewis Hamilton speaks about Saudi Arabia
Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has spoken out about competing in Saudi Arabia for the first time this weekend. As a gay F1 driver, he said he doesn’t feel comfortable competing in a country with strict laws against openly LGBTQ+ people.
“Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say I do,” Hamilton told reporters on Thursday. “But this is not my choice. Our sport has chosen here and whether it’s fair or not, I think, while we’re here, it’s still important to do some awareness-raising work.”
Hamilton still plans to wear his helmet to show off the pride flag, even though homosexuality is illegal there. He hopes this awareness will bring change to the country.
What did human rights organizations say?
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both released statements about this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, adding that the event was contributing to a plan to “clean up sport” ” of the country.
“If they do not voice their concerns about the egregious abuses committed by Saudi Arabia, Formula 1 and its performers risk backing the government’s costly efforts. Saudi Arabia to whitewash its image despite the dramatic increase in repression over the years,” said Michael Page, HRW Deputy Director for the Middle East, said in a statement.
While HRW urged F1 and music performers to take action, Amnesty International echoed and later added that Saudi Arabia should make the changes if they want to be seen as problem-free. subject as they are trying to be seen.
“If the authorities want to be seen differently, they should immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been jailed for peacefully expressing their views, lift the ban travel and impose a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty”. said Amnesty International’s statement.