Justin Bieber Slammed by Human Rights Activists Ahead of Saudi Arabia Concert

Justin Bieber is being accused by a human rights organization chaired by former chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov of becoming a "pawn" of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman if he performs in Saudi Arabia next month.

Bieber is set to perform on December 5 at the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, a new street circuit in Jeddah near the coastline of the Red Sea, but Kasparov, in his role as chairman of the Human Rights Foundation co-authored a letter to the performer encouraging him to cancel due to the country's abuse of women, gays and political dissenters.

Under MBS, Saudi Arabia has tortured women with electric shocks, flogging and rape for the crime of advocating for equal rights, like driving a car and accessing education, Bieber is informed in the letter co-signed by HRF CEO Thor Halvorssen.

The four-page letter was mailed Tuesday to Bieber by way of manager Scott "Scooter" Braun. This story will be updated should Bieber or Braun respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

"Since coming to power in 2017, MBS has spearheaded a brutal crackdown on dissidents, including women's rights activists and sexual minorities through arbitrary detention, prosecution, and barbaric methods of execution, such as decapitation, crucifixion, and stoning to death," says the letter. "Your sponsor authorized the beheading of gay men for the 'crime' of being born that way."

Halvorssen founded HRF in 2005 and the organization made international news in 2015 when it used balloons to scatter copies of the film The Interview all over North Korea. The comedy starred Seth Rogen and James Franco and so insulted Kim Jong Un that the Communist dictator threatened to destroy American theaters that dared show it, and he allegedly also orchestrated an unprecedented hack into the emails of top executives at Sony Pictures in an attempt to destroy their careers.

Bieber's performance is set to take place on the closing night of a three-day concert in Saudi Arabia that also stars Jason Derulo, DJ Tiesto, ASAP Rocky and David Guetta.

While Halvorssen and Kasparov do not address the other performers by name, they do note that Nicki Minaj canceled a scheduled appearance in Saudi Arabia in 2019 and instead made a statement in support of human rights in the country, and they encourage Bieber to do likewise.

"If you move forward with this performance for a festival sponsored by the Crown Prince, you will be in league with people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder," they write.

The pair also note that Bieber has expressed his support of Black Lives Matter and gay rights and and once said, "If we all do our part by using our gifts to serve this planet, and each other, that we are that much closer to being united."

Halvorssen and Kasparov also implore Bieber to do his homework, asking him to learn the stories of Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sadah and Maya al-Zahrani, each of whom was imprisoned and punished for advocating on behalf of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

Toward the end of the letter, the authors tell Bieber that if he doesn't cancel his appearance, "You will become a pawn—a tool of the repressive Saudi regime's campaign—used to detract attention away from the country's dire human rights situation."

Justin Bieber at the 2021 MTV VMAs.
A human rights group is asking Justin Bieber to cancel an appearance in Saudi Arabia scheduled for December 5. Above, Bieber accepts the artist of the year award at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. Kevin Mazur/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS