TORONTO — The fiancée of a slain Saudi journalist on Monday publicly called on Justin Bieber to cancel a March show in the Gulf Kingdom.
In a tweet, Raif Badawi’s fiancee, Ensaf Haidar, invited Bieber to meet her in London, where the “Love Yourself” singer has performed, and challenge him to explain the treatment of Badawi, who was a blogger who was convicted of cybercrime and ordered to pay a 1,000-RIK ($265) fine and 800 hours of community service.
“Stop the oppression of my family,” Haidar said in a tweet directed at Bieber. “When you see it, cancel the concert. Believe in your own humanity. Wherever you are, visit me.”
Raif Badawi was a blogger who was convicted of cybercrime and ordered to pay a 1,000-RIK ($265) fine and 800 hours of community service in 2012. He was arrested in 2012 and imprisoned in 2013. The Saudi court imposed 800 hours of community service on him for publishing what it deemed anti-Islamic posts. Badawi, who faced both criminal and administrative charges, had faced various charges including insulting Saudi officials and promoting atheism.
Badawi and Haidar’s lives were seriously affected when he was publicly flogged in 2016 for perceived violations of Saudi Arabia’s blasphemy laws. Both endured further sanctions in 2017 after Haidar was reportedly found guilty of “denigrating the prophet Muhammad” through her Tweets on Badawi’s death.
Bieber was scheduled to perform in Saudi Arabia for the first time in March. Although the organizers initially said they planned to keep the date, last week it emerged that Bieber had canceled the event. It’s not known who ultimately made the decision.
Bieber was scheduled to perform in the new cultural capital, Jeddah, and the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), according to a statement on the “Love Yourself” singer’s website. KAEC is touted as a “vibrant center of tech innovation” and home to the headquarters of Sony Music Saudi.