Nicki Minaj has cancelled her performance at a festival in Saudi Arabia next week, saying she wants to show support for women's rights and the LGBTQ community.

The rapper's headline billing at a festival in Jeddah on July 18 sparked a backlash from critics of the country's human rights record.

Minaj said in a statement to the Associated Press: "After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest.

"While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression."

The Human Rights Foundation issued a statement last week calling for Minaj to pull out of the show. They urged her to "refuse the regime's money" and use her influence to demand the release of the detained women activists.

The New York based organisation praised Minaj for her decision to cancel her appearance, saying: "This is what leadership looks like. We are grateful to Nicki Minaj for her inspiring and thoughtful decision to reject the Saudi regime's transparent attempt at using her for a public relations stunt."

Other performers at Jeddah World Fest include former One Direction star Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki. The Human Rights Foundation said they hoped Payne would "follow Nicki Minaj's lead".

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