Fiance of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi asks Justin Bieber to cancel F1 show

‘Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal,’ she wrote in an open letter to the Canadian singer

Maanya Sachdeva
Monday 22 November 2021 07:01
<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber is facing growing calls to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia as the fiance of murdered Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi urges him not to perform.

In a letter published by The Washington Post on 21 November, Hatice Cengiz has asked Bieber to cancel his forthcoming performance 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”.

Bieber is scheduled to perform at the Formula 1 racing event in the city of Jiddah alongside ASAP Rocky, Jason Derulo, David Guetta and Tiesto on 5 December.

Addressing the 28-year-old singer, Cengiz wrote: “Please know that your invitation to participate in a concert in Jiddah comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is known.”

“Nothing of significance happens in Saudi Arabia without his consent, and certainly not an event as important and flashy as this,” she continued.

“Your face is even featured on the event’s website with his – the executioner of my fiance, Jamal.”

She added: “Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal. Please speak out and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions.”

Jamal Khashoggi estaba tratando de organizar el papeleo que le permitiera casarse con la escritora turca Hatice Cengiz.

This is not the first time a pop star has faced pressure to pull out of a concert in Saudi Arabia. Mariah Carey ignored calls to boycott her 2018 show after Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents in Turkey that year.

Public pressure, however, prompted Nicki Minaj to cancel her 2019 concert in Jiddah. At the time, Minaj told the Associated Press that she wanted to show support for women’s rights, gay rights and freedom of expression.

Khashoggi's assassination in 2018 was carried out by members of a team of 15 Saudi government agents who had been sent to Istanbul, where the journalist and former government spokesman had an appointment at the Saudi consulate to obtain documents needed to marry Cengiz.

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Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, talks to members of the media in Istanbul. Amnesty International reported that its forensic researchers had determined that NSO Group's flagship Pegasus spyware

She waited for him outside the consulate, but he never walked out. His body was never found.

The assassination drew international criticism and cast a shadow over Prince Mohammed whose reputation has never fully recovered.

Prince Mohammed has maintained he had no prior knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi. However, a US intelligence assessment made public under president Joe Biden determined the crown prince approved the operation.

Saudi Arabia held a trial for some of those involved in his killing, sentencing five to death before sparing them of execution.

At the time of Khashoggi’s killing, he had been writing columns for The Washington Post criticising the crown prince’s brash foreign policy moves and simultaneous crackdown on activists and perceived critics, including women’s rights activists, writers, clerics and economists.

Human Rights Watch has also called on Bieber and the other performers to pull out of the F1 concerts in Saudi Arabia, stating these events are aimed at “sportwashing” by diverting attention and deflecting scrutiny from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

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.

Cengiz has told the Associated Press she will keep speaking out in the hope of giving a voice to those who remain imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for expressing their opinion.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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