Women’s rights activists have collectively denounced pop singer Mariah Carey for performing in the sex-segregated Islamic country of Saudi Arabia.
According to Fox News, the 48-year-old singer will be the biggest star to perform in Saudi Arabia following the country’s loosening of entertainment restrictions. Her critics claim that the performance will help to strengthen Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘s image following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Mariah Carey’s reps told The Associated Press that when she was “presented with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in Saudi Arabia, Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the dissolution of gender segregation.”
“As the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah recognizes the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support global efforts towards equality for all,” the statement said.
Saudis earn an average monthly wage of $2,600. Tickets for the concert start at $80. VIP seats cost $530. DJ Tiesto will also be performing at the concert, which will be held in the gated King Abdullah Economic City, just two hours north of the Islamic holy site Mecca.
Omaima Al-Najjar, a refugee of Saudi Arabia, said the concerts and events only serve to distract the world from the country’s many crimes. “The Saudi government is using entertainment to distract the people from human rights abuses because it can sense the anger among the public,” she said.
Al-Najjar said that Carey and other artists should boycott Saudi Arabia on the condition that the government release women’s rights activists.
Activist Alia al-Hathloul tweeted at Mariah Carey to remember that her imprisoned sister, Loujain al-Hathloul, is the reason why she has been invited to perform.
“Remember, thanks to my sister @LoujainHathloul, you r able to perform in Saudi Arabia. I wish she can attend your concert. But she’s locked behind bars because she tried to improve women’s condition. Don’t forget to thank her on stage,” she wrote to Carey on Twitter.
Saudi-American feminist Amani Al-Ahmadi also wrote on Twitter: “As a young Saudi woman, I used to listen to @MariahCarey’s music & feel empowered. So hearing that she will be performing in #Saudi while feminists remain behind bars left me feeling disgusted by her lack of empathy & inconsideration. I expected more from a strong female artist.”
Al-Ahmadi continued: “As a woman you owe our sisters abroad the same respect to which you would have given to the ones here. If this was @realDonaldTrump who was imprisoning and torturing female activists, this would be a different story. Don’t be a hypocrite and stand up against this tyranny!”
Feminist Mona Eltahawy tweeted: “Dear @MariahCarey, I hear you’re planning on performing in #Saudi Arabia: are you aware that women’s rights activists have been detained without charge since May 2018 & tortured at the orders of Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman?”
Mariah Carey had her share of defenders online, all of whom noted that she will not be singing for the Saudi government, but for the Saudi people.
Author Najat AlSaeed tweeted: “Mariah Carey is coming for the Saudi people NOT for the Saudi government. This stupid campaign by foreign activists to stop her from coming is a complete dictatorship. Because they dislike the Saudi government, the whole Saudis must be punished. What kind of stupid argument.”
Another user tweeted: “Why are people expecting Mariah Carey to solve the women’s rights crisis in Saudi Arabia she’s done more humanitarian work than every single person critiquing her for performing there and that’s a fact.”
Carey’s concert has been advertised in conformity with Saudi Arabia’s modesty laws, according to Fox News, which require women to “wear loose, long black robes known as abayas in public.”