Nicki Minaj backs out of Saudi Arabia performance

Nicki Minaj accepts the award for favorite artist- rap  hip-hop at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards on Nov. 18 2012 in Los Angeles

Rapper Nicki Minaj has canceled her concert appearance in Saudi Arabia amid calls to pull out due to the country's human rights violations.

"After careful reflection I have chose to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest", Minaj told Billboard in a statement.

"We are grateful to Nicki Minaj for her inspiring and thoughtful decision to reject the Saudi regime's transparent attempt at using her for a public relations stunt", Halvorssen said.

On Tuesday (July 9), the "Megatron" rapper announced that she has pulled out of the Jeddah World Fest, which is set to take place July 18 at King Abdullah Sports Stadium. Liam Payne and Steve Aoki are now still on the bill.

CEO Thor Halvorssen said: "What is Minaj thinking?"

Reportedly, Saudi Arabia is still gender-segregated - which is manifested in many ways, including women and men being forced to stay apart in public schools, coffee shops, restaurants, and also not being able to attend sports games.

Nicki Minaj is known as one of hip-hop's most provocative artists.

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Nicki Minaj to perform in Saudi Arabia
In a letter to Minaj's record label, HRF's CEO Thor Halvorssen asked the artist to "urgently consider cancelling" her performance. No female rapper (other than Trina ) did a song w/me (with me) or congratulated me on my billboard accomplishments.

Over the past several months, the kingdom has seen performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Mariah Carey, Sean Paul and others.

She was slated to headline the Jeddah World Fest in Jeddah, a city of 4 million that sits on the Red Sea.

The festival in Saudi Arabia, which forbids alcohol and has a strict social code, comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pursues a liberalization drive that has led to new cinemas, concerts and sporting extravaganzas.

Minaj posted a picture on Instagram addressing her change of heart.

Others questioned how her revealing outfits and explicit lyrics would go over in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Around a dozen Saudi women activists have been detained for the past year on charges related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats in a case that has drawn global attention after last year's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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