Friday, February 26, 2021

Janet Jackson, 50 Cent Added to Line-up at Controversial Saudi Arabia Music Festival

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Chris Brown performs onstage during “We Can Survive, A Radio.com Event” at The Hollywood Bowl on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
(Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America)

*A week after Nicki Minaj announced that she was dropping out of the Jeddah World Fest concert in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns, comes word that Janet Jackson, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, and Future have been added to the lineup.

The website for the event has been updated to include photos of the newly added acts alongside previously announced performers Liam Payne and Steve Aoki.

As reported by Page Six, The Human Rights Foundation asked artists not to perform in Saudi Arabia, where “gender segregation between single men and women is enforced in many restaurants, coffee shops, public schools and universities,” the outlet writes. 

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Future attends the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 08, 2018 in New York City.

Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, criticized the confirmed acts in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press, saying it was “profoundly distressing that they have chosen money over morals.”

He added: “These individuals constantly make public statements of support for LGBT rights and women’s rights, except, apparently, when a seven-figure check is attached. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Principal apparently matters to them far more than principles.”

Minaj said she pulled out of the concert as a show of support for women’s rights and the gay community. 

“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest. While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression,” Minaj said in a statement to The Associated Press.

She was originally scheduled to headline the concert on July 18.

“It’s clear that, after losing Nicki Minaj on the basis of the Saudi regime’s atrocious human rights record and their treatment of women and the gay community, the Crown Prince has chosen to spend whatever it takes to give the appearance that things are normal and that this is just another music concert. Except it isn’t,” Halvorssen’s statement read. “It’s a blatant public relations push on the heels of the pre-meditated assassination of a Washington Post columnist and the ongoing imprisonment of dozens of human rights activists. Saudi is engaged in a sophisticated campaign of distraction.”

Jeddah World Fest will follow Saudi laws by prohibiting drugs and alcohol. The event is open to people 16 and older and will take place Thursday at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city.

Saudi organizers said the concert will be broadcast globally.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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