BTS say controversial decision to play in Saudi Arabia ‘wasn’t easy’

Nicki Minaj previously withdrew from performing in the country following backlash

BTS channel The Beatles for live performance of 'Boy With Luv'

BTS have defended their decision to play in Saudi Arabia, claiming that it is a country “where people want to see us”.

The K-pop group’s decision to play in the country has been divisive as a result of Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights, but two members of the band explained to the Hollywood Reporter why the decision to play there was made.

“I wouldn’t say it was easy,” member RM said. “But we were officially invited. It’s been a while since we’ve performed in the Middle East – I guess the last time was 2015 in Dubai.”

Jimin added: “To put it simply, if there’s a place where people want to see us, we’ll go there. That’s really how we feel.”

International artists performing in Saudi Arabia have faced controversy in recent months. In July, Nicki Minaj backed out of a concert in the country following pressure from the Human Rights Foundation.

“While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression,” Minaj said in a statement.

Around a dozen Saudi women activists have been detained for the past year on charges related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats.

It is a case that has drawn global attention, particularly after last year’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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