DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Pop star Justin Bieber is facing growing calls to cancel his show in Saudi Arabia next month as the Saudi critic’s fiancée Saudi Jamal Khashoggi has joined a choir calling out for him not to perform at the racing kingdom’s Formula 1.
In an open letter published by The Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz urged Canada’s representative to cancel a December 5 performance in the Red Sea city of Jiddah to “send a strong message to the world that Your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”
Bieber’s concert is the most attention-grabbing performance scheduled for the race in Jiddah, although other F1 concert performers include rapper A$AP Rocky, DJs David Guetta and Tiesto and singer Jason Derulo.
This is not the first time a pop star has faced pressure to withdraw from a performance in Saudi Arabia. Mariah Carey was the biggest name performer on stage in Saudi Arabia following the murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Turkey in October 2018. She has rejected calls for a boycott. program run.
However, public pressure prompted Nicki Minaj in 2019 to cancel her stage appearance at a concert in Jiddah, speaking to the Associated Press at a time when she wanted to show support for the cause. women’s rights, gay rights and freedom of expression.
Khashoggi’s gruesome murder in 2018 was carried out by members of a team of 15 Saudi government agents who were sent to Istanbul, where the writer and former government spokesman had an appointment at the Saudi consulate to obtain the necessary documents to marry Cengiz. She waited for him outside the consulate, but he never stepped outside. His body was never found.
The murder by agents who once worked for the crown prince drew international astonishment and cast a shadow over Crown Prince Mohammed, whose reputation never fully recovered. Crown Prince Mohammed insisted that he had no prior knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi. However, a US intelligence assessment published under President Joe Biden determined that the crown prince approved the operation.
“Know that your invitation to a concert in Jiddah comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is known,” Cengiz wrote in an open letter to Bieber. “Nothing of any significance happens in Saudi Arabia without his consent, and certainly not an important and flashy event like this.”
Bieber’s performance in Saudi Arabia, which took place shortly before he opened his world tour in February, has been postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic.
In the time since, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund – run by Crown Prince Mohammed – has bought shares in Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster and promotes concerts for Bieber and other big stars. When Live Nation shares plummeted last year during the COVID-19 lockdown and thousands of concerts canceled, the Public Investment Fund purchased $500 million worth of the company’s shares. defeat.
Public filings show that Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund is currently the second-largest institutional holder in Live Nation, with holdings worth approximately $1.4 billion.
Human Rights Watch has also called on Bieber and other performers to pull out of F1 concerts in Saudi Arabia, saying the events are intended to “boycott” by diverting attention and deflect scrutiny from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Young people in Saudi Arabia are the main attendees of these concerts, enjoying the country’s new social changes that allow for the mixing of music and gender. The kingdom’s general sports body argues that sport is a tool for social change in the kingdom.
Next month’s F1 race will be Saudi Arabia’s first time hosting the premier sporting event, although the kingdom has hosted the lesser-known Formula E race over the years in an effort enhance the country’s status as a tourist destination.
At the time of Khashoggi’s death, the crown prince was praised for instituting social reforms that changed the lives of many in the country. Khashoggi has written articles for The Washington Post criticizing the crown prince’s crude foreign policy moves and suppressing activists and perceived critics, including activists. women’s rights, writers, clerics and economists.
Saudi Arabia held a trial for several of those involved in his murder, sentenced five people to death before the execution.
Khashoggi’s fiancee told the Associated Press that she will continue to speak out in the hope of giving a voice to those still in captivity in Saudi Arabia.