Slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi's Fiancée Urges Justin Bieber to Cancel Saudi Arabia Show

The fiancée of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi has joined calls for pop star Justin Bieber to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia next month, the Associated Press reported.

Hatice Cengiz urged Bieber in an open letter published by the Washington Post to call off his performance 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."

Khashoggi was killed in 2018 when he traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, for an appointment at the Saudi consulate to obtain documents required to marry Cengiz. Members of a team of Saudi government agents were also sent to Istanbul, and though Cengiz waited for Khashoggi outside the consulate, he did not walk out. His body has never been discovered, according to AP.

Bieber and others, including A$AP Rocky and David Guetta, are scheduled to perform in December at a Formula One race in the city of Jiddah.

Cengiz wrote in her letter to the singer that his opportunity to perform was likely sanctioned by Prince Mohammed, the crown prince who claims that he had nothing to do with Khashoggi's killing even though a U.S. intelligence assessment determined that he authorized the operation, AP reported.

"Please know that your invitation to participate in a concert in Jiddah comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is known," Cengiz wrote. "Nothing of significance happens in Saudi Arabia without his consent, and certainly not an event as important and flashy as this."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Justin Bieber Saudi Arabia Show
In an open letter published by the Washington Post on November 21, 2021, Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of slain Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi, joined a chorus of voices calling on pop star Justin Bieber to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia on December 5. Above, Bieber attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the In America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition on September 13, 2021, in New York City. Evan Agostini/AP Photo

It is not the first time a pop star has faced pressure to pull out of a concert in Saudi Arabia. Mariah Carey was the biggest-name performer to hit the stage in Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi's killing in October 2018. She brushed off calls to boycott the show.

Public pressure, however, prompted Nicki Minaj in 2019 to cancel her appearance on stage at a concert in Jiddah, telling AP at the time she wanted to show support for women's rights, gay rights and freedom of expression.

Bieber's concert in Saudi Arabia comes shortly before he opens a world tour in February that was rescheduled from 2020 due to the pandemic.

In the time since, Saudi Arabia's state-owned sovereign wealth fund—steered by Prince Mohammed—scooped up shares in Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster and promotes concerts for Bieber and other major stars. As Live Nation's shares plummeted last year during COVID-19 lockdowns and the cancellation of thousands of shows, the Public Investment Fund bought $500 million worth of shares in the battered company.

Public filings show the Saudi wealth fund is now the second-largest institutional holder in Live Nation, with a stake worth some $1.4 billion.

Human Rights Watch has also called on Bieber and the other performers to pull out of the F1 concerts in Saudi Arabia, saying these events are aimed at "sportwashing" by diverting attention and deflecting scrutiny from Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

Saudi youth are the main attendees of these concerts, enjoying the country's newfound social changes that allow for music and gender mixing. The kingdom's General Sports Authority argues that sports is a tool for social change within the kingdom.

Next month's F1 race will be the first time Saudi Arabia hosts the premier sporting event, though the kingdom has hosted the lesser known Formula-E race in past years in an effort to raise the country's profile as a tourist destination.

At the time of Khashoggi's killing, the crown prince was being lauded for ushering in social reforms transforming life for many inside the country. Khashoggi had been writing columns for the Washington Post criticizing the crown prince's brash foreign policy moves and simultaneous crackdown on activists and perceived critics, including women's rights activists, writers, clerics and economists.

Saudi Arabia held a trial for some of those involved in his killing, sentencing five to death before sparing them of execution.

Khashoggi's fiancée has told AP that she will keep speaking out in the hopes of giving voice to those who remain imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for expressing their opinion.

Khashoggi Killing
Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018 when he traveled to Istanbul for an appointment at the Saudi consulate to obtain documents required to marry Hatice Cengiz. Above, people hold posters picturing Khashoggi and candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 25, 2018. Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty Images