Following backlash, Nicki Minaj has decided not to perform at a Saudi Arabian music festival Jeddah World Fest, according to a statement to the Associated Press.
"After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest," Minaj said in the statement. "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's decision follows The Human Rights Foundation calling for Minaj — as well as other lined up performers like Liam Payne and Steve Aoki — to drop out of the music festival, which will be held July 18 at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city. Saudi Arabia still enforces gender segregation in many public spaces an there remains a death sentence for same-sex sexual activity.
Following the initial announcement that Minaj would perform at the festival, Raed Abuzinadah, the director-general of Jeddah Season, an organization that creates events to encourage tourism in Saudi Arabia, issued this statement, per Harper's Bazaar:
"This is the largest musical festival of its kind in the region that will be broadcast to a global audience in more than 100 countries. There is a stereotype of the kingdom all over the world, and today it is disappearing. In its place is a new picture of the kingdom that accepts everyone."
Minaj is no longer listed on the official website for the festival. In addition to Payne and Aoki, DJs R3WIRE & VARSKI are also included on the lineup. More performers are reportedly still to be announced.
Earlier on Tuesday, Minaj posted a message on Instagram encouraging fans to voice their opinions.
"Saudi Arabia, I see some of your comments and want to respond directly to my fans. Voice your opinion here."
In the comments, fans were conflicted over Minaj's decision. Some, especially those who had purchased tickets to the event, were upset that Minaj cancelled her performance. Others thought Minaj could make a greater impact if she did attend the concert as a supporter of a more progressive Saudi Arabia, which recently lifted a ban on women drivers. Still, many praised Minaj for showing support to Saudi Arabian LGBTQ+ people and women by pulling out.
Refinery29 has reached out to Minaj for comment.