November 22, 2021
The fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has called on Canadian singer Justin Bieber to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia next month.
The Canadian singer, along with a group of stars, is scheduled to perform during the first Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
But Khadija Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, wrote an open letter to Bieber urging him to “send a strong message” to withdraw.
Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi regime, was killed in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
He had gone there to extract documents to complete his marriage to Khadija. The journalist’s body was dismembered, while his fiancée was waiting for him outside.
“Do not sing to the killers of my beloved Jamal,” Cengiz said in the letter, which was published in the Washington Post.
She said Bieber had a “unique opportunity” to show that “his name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”
Bieber is scheduled to top the F1 race on December 5, and other artists will join him.
Human Rights Watch has called on Bieber and other artists to withdraw from the F1 concerts, saying the events are meant to divert attention from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
A US intelligence report had concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, had approved the assassination of Khashoggi. But the crown prince has repeatedly denied his involvement in the incident.
The 59-year-old journalist was an adviser to the Saudi government and close to the royal family, but he was not liked by it and chose to live in self-imposed exile in the United States in 2017.
Bieber is not the first pop star to face pressure to quit a concert in Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, rapper Nicki Minaj canceled a show in Jeddah, citing her support for women and gay rights.
Last month, a demonstration was held outside the Saudi embassy in Washington and a vigil outside the US Capitol, to commemorate the third anniversary of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
His Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, showed a picture of him made from newspaper columns he had written.
Jenkins urged US President Joe Biden to hold Saudi Arabia accountable and fulfill his stated commitment to human rights.
Khashoggi was brutally murdered in his country’s consulate in Istanbul, after he published articles in the Washington Post highly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to Turkish and American officials, a Saudi assassination squad that was waiting for him in the consulate building – where he went to extract official papers to complete his marriage – strangled him and cut up his body, which has not been found so far.
The crime shook world public opinion, thanks to a wide Turkish move whose echoes are still continuing, and prevented the file from being closed with final Saudi court rulings in 2020, which were the subject of criticism.
At the time, Turkey indicted more than 20 Saudis, including the former deputy head of the General Intelligence, Ahmed Asiri, and the former advisor in the Saudi Royal Court, Saud al-Qahtani, and said they were the main masterminds of the assassination. But Riyadh refused to extradite the accused.
After initially denying the crime, Riyadh launched investigations that ended with confirming Khashoggi’s killing, issuing death sentences to five defendants, and imprisoning three others, not including Asiri or Al-Qahtani.
At the ceremony, Khadija Cengiz demanded that the US president fulfill his promise to punish Jamal’s killers.
She pointed out that “when Khashoggi was killed, Donald Trump was president of the United States, and during his time, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not punished, and arms sales to Saudi Arabia continued despite the crime.”
And she said: “At that time Biden was a candidate for the presidency, and he said at the time that Khashoggi and his relatives deserved justice.”
Cengiz appealed to Biden and his deputy, Kamala Harris, saying, “When will you keep your promises? When will you put your words into practice? Will the Biden administration continue its relations with Saudi Arabia as it always has, despite the promises?”