Fiancée of Slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Urges Justin Bieber to Cancel Upcoming Show in Saudi Arabia

(Photo credit: Reuters)

The fiancée of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi is urging Justin Bieber to bow out of a scheduled performance in Saudi Arabia as a means of supporting “the cause of human rights” in the Middle Eastern country.

Hatice Cengiz was engaged to marry Khashoggi, a journalist and Washington Post contributing columnist, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and was never seen again.

In an opinion piece written by Cengiz and published Saturday in the Post, she appealed to Bieber, 27, and explained that Khashoggi’s murder was carried out “by operatives acting on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS].”

“His brutal murder made headlines all over the world. Ever since, many human rights organizations and individuals, including myself, have been calling for justice and accountability,” Cengiz wrote. “That’s why I am writing to you with a plea: Cancel your Dec. 5 performance in Saudi Arabia.”

“This is a unique opportunity 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,” she continued.

The “Peaches” singer is currently scheduled to perform in Jiddah at the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, along with other artists like A$AP Rocky, Jason Derulo, David Guetta and Tiësto.

Cengiz explained that Bieber’s invitation to perform came directly from the crown prince, and referred to him as her fiancé’s “executioner.” The crown prince has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, though he was implicated in a U.S. intelligence report in February, according to Reuters.

“I know that you are dedicated to your fans and are traveling to Saudi Arabia on their behalf,” Cengiz wrote. “However, there are hundreds of Saudis, of all ages, backgrounds and religious beliefs, languishing in prison, punished for merely expressing their opposition to the merciless Saudi dictatorship of MBS.”

She went on to cite a message Bieber previously shared with his social media followers, in which he said he wanted to use his platform to fight against racism, and said that he could do just that by taking “a stand against injustice” and supporting “the cause of human rights in Saudi Arabia” by canceling the show.

“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,” she wrote. “If you refuse to be a pawn of MBS, your message will be loud and clear: I do not perform for dictators. I choose justice and freedom over money.”

A rep for Bieber did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

A message shared by the Human Rights Watch echoed Cengiz’s note, and encouraged the Grand Prix performers, including Bieber, to back out, as the concert “makes clear the Saudi government’s intent is to use these celebrities to whitewash its abysmal human rights record.”

Human Rights Watch also noted that celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski and John Cena have previously turned down opportunities in Saudi Arabia, “citing a concern of human rights.”

Khashoggi, 60, was a Saudi native who had been living in self-imposed exile in Virginia. He vanished after walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain what he believed were divorce papers. The February report stated that the crown prince “viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him.”

 

(People)