Justin Bieber urged to scrap Saudi Arabia F1 show

Pstar Justin Bieber faces increasing calls to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia next month as the fiancée of the assassinated Saudi critic Jamal khashoggi joined a chorus of voices on Sunday urging him not to perform in the kingdom Formula One race.

In a open letter published by The Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz urged the Canadian megastar to cancel her December 5 performance in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. to “send a powerful message to the world that his name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics. “

Bieber’s concert is the most headline performance scheduled for the Jiddah race, although other F1 concert artists include the rapper. A $ AP Rocky, DJs David Guetta and Tiesto and singer Jason Derulo.

It is not the first time that a pop star has faced pressure to withdraw from a concert in Saudi Arabia. Mariah Carey was the most renowned artist to take the stage in Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi was assassinated by Saudi agents in Turkey in October 2018. She declined calls to boycott the show..

Public pressure, however, provoked Nicki Minaj in 2019 to cancel her appearance on the stage of a concert in Jiddah, telling The Associated Press at the time that she wanted to show her support for women’s rights, gay rights and freedom of expression.

The surprising murder of Khashoggi in 2018 It was carried out by members of a team of 15 Saudi government agents who had been dispatched to Istanbul, where the writer and former government spokesman had an appointment at the Saudi consulate for the documents necessary to marry Cengiz. She waited for him outside the consulate, but he never came out. His body was never found.

Prince Mohammed approved the operation.

The killing of agents working for the crown prince sparked international gasps and overshadowed Prince mohammed, whose reputation was never fully recovered. Prince Mohammed has maintained that he had no prior knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi. However, a US intelligence assessment released under President Joe Biden found that the crown prince approved the operation.

“Please know that your invitation to participate in a concert in Jiddah comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is known,” Cengiz wrote in his open letter to Bieber. “Nothing of importance happens in Saudi Arabia without their consent, and it is certainly not as important and eye-catching an event as this one.” Bieber’s concert in Saudi Arabia comes shortly before he opens a world tour in February that was rescheduled from 2020 due to the pandemic.

In the time since then, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund, led by Prince Mohammed, has acquired shares in Living nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster and promotes concerts for Bieber and other major stars. How Live Nation shares plummeted last year during COVID-19 blockades and the cancellation of thousands of shows, the Public Investment Fund bought 500 million dollars worth of shares in the battered company. Public filings show that the Saudi wealth fund is now the second largest institutional incumbent in Living nation, with a participation of about 1,400 million dollars.

Human rights observer He has also asked Bieber and the other artists to withdraw from F1 concerts in Saudi Arabia, saying these events are aimed at “sports washing” by diverting attention and deflecting scrutiny from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

A road crew works on a road outside the Formula One corniche circuit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

A road crew works on a road outside the Formula One corniche circuit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.AP

Tool for social change

Young Saudis are the main attendees at these concerts, enjoying the new social changes in the country that allow the mixture of music and genre. The Kingdom’s General Sports Authority maintains that sports are a tool for social change within the kingdom.

Next month’s F1 race will be the first time that Saudi Arabia has received the premier sporting event, though the kingdom has hosted the lesser-known Formula E race in recent years in an effort to raise the country’s profile as a tourist destination.

At the time of Khashoggi’s assassination, the crown prince was being praised for pushing for social reforms that transformed the lives of many within the country. Khashoggi had been writing columns by The Washington Post criticizing the crown prince’s brazen foreign policy moves and the simultaneous crackdown on activists and perceived critics, including women’s rights activists, writers, clergymen, and economists.

Saudi Arabia held a trial for some of those involved in his murder, condemning five to death before saving them from execution. Khashoggi’s fiancée told The Associated Press that she will continue to speak in hopes of giving a voice to those who remain imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for expressing their views.


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