Justin Bieber Goes Through With Performance in Saudi Arabia Despite Outcry From Critics
Justin Bieber took the stage at Saudi Arabia’s Grand Prix as one of the biggest stars to headline the event, amid intense outcry against his performance.
Bieber performed Sunday night at Saudi Arabia’s first Formula 1 race in Jiddah. Jason Derulo and David Guetta also took the stage prior to Bieber. The singer performed to a packed crowd eager to see him sing some of his greatest hits.
Human rights activists called for Bieber to cancel his performance in a display of protest of the oppressive tactics utilized within the nation. The Human Rights Foundation urged the singer to cancel his performance privately, while also spearheading a public campaign to discourage the performance.
Ads were plastered on the sided of a truck that drove through Los Angeles during the American Music Awards on November 21st. One of the ads read, “It’s Not Too Late Now to Say Sorry. Don’t Sing for Saudi Arabia’s Dictator!” While another one states, “Bieber, Your Saudi Boss Murders Journalists. Do the Right Thing, Cancel!”
This ad invokes murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was killed in 2018 by a team of the kingdom’s government agents. Khashoggi’s Fiancee joined in on the pressure against Bieber’s performance as she published an open letter in the Washington Post.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s Fiancee, pleaded with Bieber to consider what his performance would represent, writing “This is a unique opportunity to send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”
Cengiz said that, “Nothing of significance happens in Saudi Arabia without,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s consent and argued that Bieber’s performance is an invitation directly from the crown.
Khashoggi’s Fiancee even invoked some of Bieber’s own words against him, in order to present this performance as a deviation from the singer’s previous calls for racial justice within the United States.
“Considering this very honorable commitment that you have made to take a stand against injustice, please use your platform now to support the cause of human rights in Saudi Arabia,” continued Cengiz, “This year, you released an album that you titled “Justice.” You also released one titled “Freedom.” Saudi Arabia is in dire need of both.”
Bieber is expected to open a world tour next year, which is being promoted by Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster. According to AP, “Saudi Arabia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund — steered by Prince Mohammed — is among the largest institutional holders in Live Nation, with a stake worth some $1.4 billion.”
The singer has not yet commented on the controversy regarding his performance and the pressure to cancel the show altogether.
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