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10 artists hit by human rights criticism over concerts
Rapper Nicki Minaj this week pulled out of a planned concert in Saudi Arabia, where same-sex acts attract the death penalty, after critics said it clashed with her support for LGBT+ rights.

Minaj, known for her provocative stage performances and skin-baring attire, was due to headline the Jeddah World Fest music festival on July 18, the latest example of the conservative kingdom loosening restrictions on entertainment. Here are 10 artists who have drawn flak for agreeing to play in countries that have been criticized over human rights.
Minaj, known for her provocative stage performances and skin-baring attire, was due to headline the Jeddah World Fest music festival on July 18, the latest example of the conservative kingdom loosening restrictions on entertainment. Here are 10 artists who have drawn flak for agreeing to play in countries that have been criticized over human rights.
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June 25, 2018
Rapper Nicki Minaj this week pulled out of a planned concert in Saudi Arabia, where same-sex acts attract...
Los Angeles, UNITED STATES
2018 BET Awards - Show - Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Rapper Nicki Minaj this week pulled out of a planned concert in Saudi Arabia, where same-sex acts attract the death penalty, after critics said it clashed with her support for LGBT+ rights. Minaj, known for her provocative stage performances and skin-baring attire, was due to headline the Jeddah World Fest music festival on July 18, the latest example of the conservative kingdom loosening restrictions on entertainment. Minaj, who took part in Gay Pride festivities in New York in June, said on Tuesday that she would no longer perform to make clear her support for women and LGBT+ rights.
Here are 10 artists who have drawn flak for agreeing to play in countries that have been criticized over human rights.
Pictured: Nicki Minaj performs aat the 2018 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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May 02, 2019
1. Mariah Carey ignored calls to cancel a concert in Saudi Arabia in January. Women's rights campaigners...
Las Vegas, UNITED STATES
2019 Billboard Music Awards- Show - Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
1. Mariah Carey ignored calls to cancel a concert in Saudi Arabia in January. Women's rights campaigners said the American singer's participation would "artwash" a government that has detained women activists in the past year on charges related to human rights work. Pictured: Mariah Carey performs during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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June 14, 2018
3. British singer Robbie Williams was accused by critics of the Kremlin of "selling his soul" by performing...
Moscow, Russia
World Cup - Opening Ceremony
3. British singer Robbie Williams was accused by critics of the Kremlin of "selling his soul" by performing at the opening ceremony of 2018 World Cup in Russia, which has cracked down on political critics and LGBT+ people. He went ahead with the gig. Pictured: Robbie Williams performs during the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow, Russia, June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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August 29, 2016
4. Beyonce is among a number of stars who apologized for performing at private parties for former Libyan...
New York, UNITED STATES
Singer Beyonce arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York
4. Beyonce is among a number of stars who apologized for performing at private parties for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The singer announced in 2011 she had donated the cash she earned from her 2009 show to charity. Pictured: Singer Beyonce arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
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February 11, 2019
5. Jennifer Lopez also backtracked after performing at a private concert in Turkmenistan in 2013, attended...
Los Angeles, UNITED STATES
61st Grammy Awards - Show - Los Angeles, California, U.S.
5. Jennifer Lopez also backtracked after performing at a private concert in Turkmenistan in 2013, attended by its president, who Western states accuse of political repression. "Had there been knowledge of human-right issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended," her publicist said. Pictured: Jennifer Lopez performs at the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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March 15, 2019
6. John Legend was criticized for performing in 2015 in Bahrain, where authorities have detained activists...
Los Angeles, UNITED STATES
iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles
6. John Legend was criticized for performing in 2015 in Bahrain, where authorities have detained activists and critics. The singer, who is known for speaking out on human rights issues, went ahead with the show. Pictured: Singer John Legend performs during the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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January 28, 2018
7. Lana Del Rey and New Zealand's Lorde have both pulled out of planned concerts in Israel in recent...
New York City, UNITED STATES
60th Annual Grammy Awards – Arrivals – New York
7. Lana Del Rey and New Zealand's Lorde have both pulled out of planned concerts in Israel in recent years following appeals from pro-Palestine activists. Pictured: Lana Del Rey arrives at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York, January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly.
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June 23, 2017
8. However, indie rock giants Radiohead opted to go ahead with a 2017 gig in Tel Aviv despite criticism,...
Glastonbury, United Kingdom
Radiohead performs on the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival
8. However, indie rock giants Radiohead opted to go ahead with a 2017 gig in Tel Aviv despite criticism, saying "Playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing the government." Pictured: Radiohead performs on the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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August 14, 2008
9. Spanish singer Julio Iglesias was urged by human rights groups to reconsider a 2012 show in Equatorial...
CALELLA DE PALAFRUGELL, Spain
Spanish singer Julio Iglesias performs during a concert at the Cap Roig festival in Calella de Palafrugell...
9. Spanish singer Julio Iglesias was urged by human rights groups to reconsider a 2012 show in Equatorial Guinea, which was reportedly organized by the president's son. Pictured: Spanish singer Julio Iglesias performs during a concert at the Cap Roig festival in Calella de Palafrugell, August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Albert Gea
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May 14, 2011
10. Bob Dylan faced criticism after he did not perform some of his best-known protest songs at 2011 shows...
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
File photo of Bob Dylan performing in Vietnam
10. Bob Dylan faced criticism after he did not perform some of his best-known protest songs at 2011 shows in China. The singer later said there had been no censorship of his setlist by the country's authorities. Pictured: Rock legend Bob Dylan performs in Ho Chi Minh city April 10, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer
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