Cancellation of Nicki Minaj’s Saudi concert stirs online anger

The cancellation of a concert by rapper Nicki Minaj in Saudi Arabia triggered a fresh social media storm on Wednesday , with many fans in the ultra – conservative kingdom voicing disappointment and demanding ticket refunds .

The American star on Tuesday said she pulled out of the July 18 concert in a show of support for women ’ s and gay rights in Saudi Arabia.

The announcement of her performance in the western city of Jeddah had prompted an online backlash from arch -conservatives as the kingdom pursues a contentious liberalisation drive that has loosened decades – old restrictions on entertainment.
“ So sad , I was preparing to do a Michael Jackson dance at the party , ” one Twitter user wrote as some fans angrily demanded refunds from organisers .

Organisers of the Jeddah Season cultural festival had said thousands of tickets were sold for the concert that includes performances by British musician Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki .

The singer also faced a torrent of abuse for supporting gay rights in the Islamic kingdom , with one person writing on Twitter : “ Cancellation of the party is good news . Praise be to Allah. ”
Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam .
Minaj is well – known for her provocative , profanity- laced lyrics and skin – baring music videos .

The singer insisted on Twitter that she did not want to perform in a country where “ women have no rights ” , but added that her decision was not intended to “ disrespect ” the Saudi government .
Citing unnamed sources , a few Saudi media outlets including the pro -government Okaz newspaper insisted that it was the kingdom that cancelled the concert as it went against local “ customs and values ” .
Saudi entertainment authorities and the media ministry did not respond to AFP‘ s requests for comment.

The kingdom has faced intense international scrutiny over its human rights record since last year ’ s killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul and the ongoing trial of women activists.
Saudi Arabia is boosting entertainment that allows citizens to have fun , in what some see as an attempt to blunt public frustration over an economic downturn and high youth unemployment .

The country’ s General Entertainment Authority said it plans to pump $ 64 billion into the sector in the coming decade .
The reform also stems partly from an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the kingdom has reeled from low oil prices .

Saudis currently splurge billions of dollars annually to see films and visit amusement parks in neighbouring tourist hubs like Dubai and Bahrain .
But such acts have fuelled controversy in a country still steeped in conservatism .
( AFP )

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