After Pressuring Nicki Minaj to Cancel Her Performance in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Foundation Sets Its Sights on BTS

For weeks, LGBTQ groups worked diligently to get Nicki Minaj to cancel her concert in Saudi Arabia.

And it worked.  After applying relentless pressure, The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) pushed the rapper to halt her much-hyped performance.  Minaj was slated to perform on July 19th at the Jeddah World Fest.

Minaj would have appeared alongside One Direction’s Liam Payne and Steve Aoki, among many others.

Though she cited Saudi Arabia’s stance against the LGBTQ community, the broader story is likely more complicated.  Minaj blamed perceived human rights abuses from the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Under Salman, who has successfully pushed for multiple reforms, including women’s right to vote, the country has attracted millions from foreign investors and tourists.

But Salman’s reputation has been severely impacted after his suspected role in the death of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen.  Salman is widely believed to have ordered Khashoggi’s death, and millions have been left destitute and starving after merciless bombing and attacks in the country.  Beyond those problems, Saudi Arabia is notorious for its repressive treatment of LGBTQ members.

Pointing to the singer’s waning popularity abroad, Saudi Seasons, Jeddah World Fest’s organizer, dismissed Minaj’s cancellation.  Instead, the company said more acts would be announced soon.

Now, after successfully shutting down Minaj’s performance, the Human Rights Foundation has set its eyes on another popular group.

Will BTS give in to HRF’s pressure?

K-Pop boy band BTS has confirmed the group will perform in Saudi Arabia.  The boy band will perform at the 68,000-seat King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on October 11th.

According to ET Canada, BTS will become the first international group to headline a performance at the stadium.

The group’s strong fan base in Saudi Arabia immediately took to social media to express their excitement.

One fan tweeted,

I literally CANNOT process the fact that BTS are coming here like NO!  Because I had NO hope that they’re gonna ever come to Saudi Arabia LIKE CAN Y’ALL BELIEVE BTS AND I WILL BE BREATHING THE SAME AIR????

Another wrote in all-caps (which I’ve modified for readability),

Middle East ARMYs are getting their very own first tour stop.  I’m so, so happy for y’all.  Oh My God BTS going ️ Saudi Arabia.

Underscoring the vocal activist group’s attempts to shut down the boy band’s upcoming performance, HRF’s letter to Minaj promptly went viral.

If you move forward with this performance for a festival sponsored by the Crown Prince, you will be in league with the people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder.

Setting their sights on the group, HRF activists have now decried BTS’ Oct 11th performance.

I love BTS but this isn’t right.  I feel for the fans but by performing in a country where women and LGBTQ are segregated is just awful.  Saudi Arabia will profit from the festival.  Nicki Minaj took a stand and BTS should too.

Another said,

Artists have been boycotting Saudi Arabia due to flagrant human rights abuses against women activists and the LGBTQ+ community.  BTS are U.N. representatives and everyone involved here should have known better.  Honestly speaking, Big Hit should have known better.

Whether BTS or Big Hit Entertainment, the group’s agency, will ultimately cave in to HRF’s demands remains unclear.


Featured image by Ajeong_JM (CC by 2.0).

9 Responses

  1. Kpop fan

    Honestly, I think it would be a step in the right direction to have the concert. BTS has support from a lot of women and lgbt groups, so by showcasing that concert in Saudi Arabia, it’s somewhat validating the importance of that demographic. Obviously Saudi wants this concert to be successful to attract more business, so it’s going to get a lot of marketing. A group that supports human rights of all races, religions, gender, and orientation will be advertised in a positive light to the whole country. Even locals who are not fans at all have shown a lot of interest in them coming, despite not being able to understand bts’ mother tongue. And that says a lot. Yeah sure, you’re giving money to a corrupt government, but you’re also planting thousands of seeds for reform.

    • Fred S.

      Agree with the comment above. The gov’t and country are welcoming symbols of tolerance, equality, and diversity. A bit catch-22 if the country needs to be already liberal before it can welcome small changes. Even if it’s ‘ just a public relations stunt’, with more people coming through, they’d have to adapt and modernize to be competitive in a global market.

  2. ARMY??

    Wait….what if BTS randomly decide to perform 21st Century Girls??????

  3. non of your business

    alahu akbar allahu akbar judgement day will come up soon if it continues like this ya BTS alharameen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. A BC

    What the fuck is wrong with all of these BTS-related articles? They all create some big scandal or issue out of practically nothing. Whether it be covering topics like plagiarism claims (which, as you conveniently decided to leave out, were settled immediately), or now this, your articles show pure bias against them. It’s like you’re trying to make them these problematic, controversial artists, when they’re literally partnered with the UN/UNICEF.

    BTS/BigHit have already officially confirmed a concert in Saudi Arabia on that October date. If you take the time to look at literally any other concert of theirs within the past five years, you’ll see that they’re not the type to cancel a concert–rain or shine, injury or health–because they know they’ll always have a sold-out stadium and supportive audience.

    Maybe it’s just obvious to me as a long-time ARMY, but the opposing argument here is just a dichotomy. BTS are going to Saudi Arabia, and they’re bringing their global message of acceptance with them. Their fans from Saudi Arabia are already aware of their beliefs and support them nonetheless. It’s gonna be so funny when they have a full stadium (complete with fan chants: “You can’t stop me [from] loving myself!”) and everyone who doubted whether or not the message would come through is just proven wrong.

    I expected something more professional than this shit.

    • Lilian94mono

      Very well proven thought and complete accuracy. This garbage also agitates me and as a fan i have a problem with all these wannabe journalists. I hope everyone knows the truth and decides to stay with it.

  5. 슈가TV

    I know its late but i am glad that both ARABIAN ARMY and BTS gets to see each other!? And I Know That I’m Gonna Get Bashed Or Something But Seriously! Islam Didnt Say Nor State That Liking A Singer/Band Of Another Religion Was Haram. I Think Liking A Group/Staning Them Is Not Wrong Unless We Forgot Our Duties That Must Be Performed As A Islam Such As Our Solat/Fasting/Hajji. Other Than Those Stated Reasons, I Don’t Think There’s Any Problem. So Overall, I Am Preety Sure That It Is Not Forbidden. So Please Stop Using Our Religion To Bash BTS and ARMY. And Stop Saying That We Are Going To Hell Just Because We Stan A Kpop Group. YOU YOURSELF DO NOT KNOW WHETHER YOU ENTER HEAVEN OR HELL. SO SHUT THE F*** UP! A Judgemental Islam Is Not A Real Islam. You’re Just Making Islam Look Bad! Understood!! Plus, Islam Doesnt Teach Us To Hate, Instead, Islam Teaches Us To Love And Spread Love.