Justin Beiber is facing criticism following his performance in Saudi Arabia despite disturbing ongoing human rights abuses in the country.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused of killing and torturing his critics, even if they are abroad and outside the country.
Most notably, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who worked for The Washington Post, was assassinated in Turkey at the Saudi consulate on October 2nd, 2018.
He was killed by agents of the Saudi government who were allegedly sent at the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia’s harsh treatment of critics also includes imprisonment and torture.
Human rights campaigners and activists called on Justin Beiber to boycott his performance in protest of the kingdom’s arrests and crackdown of critics.
The Washington Post published an open letter asking Beiber to cancel his 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.”
Inviting a star like Bieber “comes directly” from the crown prince, the letter states.
It’s unclear how much celebrities have been paid for their appearances in Saudi Arabia, but it’s believed an exorbitant amount is paid. For example, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman paid a record-breaking $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi, which is now the most expensive work of art on earth.
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Prince Mohammed attended the F1 race and social media showed him taking selfies with young Saudi men who lined up to meet the powerful heir to the throne. The F1 race marked the first time the kingdom hosts the premier sporting event, though it has hosted the lesser known Formula-E race and other sporting events in past years in an effort to raise the country’s profile as a tourist destination.
At the time of Khashoggi’s killing in late 2018, the crown prince was being lauded for transforming life for many inside the country. Khashoggi, meanwhile, was writing columns for The Washington Post drawing attention to the prince’s brash foreign policy moves and simultaneous crackdown on activists and perceived critics, including women’s rights activists, writers, clerics and economists.
Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents who worked for the crown prince during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers to marry his Turkish fiancée.
A U.S. intelligence assessment made public under President Joe Biden determined the crown prince approved the operation. Prince Mohammed has maintained he had no prior knowledge of the operation.
Bieber’s concert in Saudi Arabia comes shortly before he opens a world tour next year. The tour is being promoted by Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster. Saudi Arabia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund — steered by Prince Mohammed — is among the largest institutional holders in Live Nation, with a stake worth some $1.4 billion.