Photo credits: Paul Archuleta/Stringer/Getty Images
When the announcement came that pop music megastar Mariah Carey (pictured) was kicking off 2019 with a world tour, a windfall of controversy brewed over one country where the 48-year-old singer planned to perform: Saudi Arabia.
In late January 2019, a number of national news outlets, including CNN, reported that women’s rights advocates around the world beseeched Carey to cancel her Saudi Arabian concert. Women who are activists in Amnesty International were among the advocates against Carey’s performance in the Wahhabi Muslim nation.
Saudi Arabia’s government is an absolute monarchy and its been decried for decades by human rights groups as cruel and authoritarian. In May 2018, nearly a dozen high-profile female activists were jailed in Saudi Arabia.
One of the most notable jailed female activists is a woman named Samar Badawi, an internationally-known critic of Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, the Crown Prince, deputy prime minister, and heir apparent to the Saudi throne. Bin Salman is said to be sanitizing his nation’s story of reform to the world while covertly committing horrors.
A Turkish media outlet called TRT World just reported that the women being held in Saudi jails across the country are being subjected to torture. Daily beatings, psychological abuse, and electric shock are some of the tactics Saudi jailers are using to punish the female political prisoners, according to TRT’s February 15 report.
However, none of these reports on torture, which date back to last year, compelled Carey to cancel her early February concert in Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Economic City. The “We Belong Together” hit maker defied calls to boycott the Kingdom and performed during her Saudi Arabian tour stop as scheduled.
Carey’s team of publicists issued a statement to the Associated Press, which explained the singer’s decision.
“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. [Mariah] looks forward to bringing inspiration and encouragement to all audiences,” the statement read.
This has obviously put Carey at odds with a number of women’s activist groups across the globe, including organizations that advocate for women of color. Unfortunately, the female political prisoners being held in jails across Saudi Arabia remained incarcerated.
Saudi Arabia’s government spokesman in the nation’s capital city of Riyadh has denied his government’s alleged use of torture on the women, according to CNN.