Speed Reads

'unfortunate implications'

Justin Bieber sings in Saudi Arabia after being urged not to 'perform for dictators'

Justin Bieber performed in Saudi Arabia on Sunday night despite facing calls from activists, and from the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, not to do so. 

The "Sorry" singer performed Sunday at Saudi Arabia's Grand Prix, as did Jason Derulo, according to The Associated Press. Bieber went ahead with the performance after receiving backlash and calls to scrap the show when the plans were first announced. 

Human Rights Foundation, for instance, asked Bieber last month to "consider the unfortunate implications of your engagement with the brutal dictatorship" of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The non-profit urged him to "positively influence human rights policy in Saudi Arabia by canceling your appearance." 

Hatice Cengiz, who was the fiancée of late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, also penned a Washington Post piece calling on the singer to cancel the performance. Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, and a U.S. intelligence report concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved his killing. 

"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 wrote.

Cengiz urged Bieber not to "sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal," adding that if he called off the show, "your message will be loud and clear: I do not perform for dictators. I choose justice and freedom over money." Bieber hasn't spoken about the decision to go ahead with the performance. His wife, Hailey Bieber, posted a video on Instagram of the pop star performing at the concert, writing, "Go baby."

Previously, rapper Nicki Minaj canceled a planned 2019 performance in Saudi Arabia after facing backlash. "I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression," she said