K-pop boyband BTS slammed over planned Saudi Arabia concert

K-pop boyband BTS slammed over planned Saudi Arabia concert
News of BTS' planned October concert in Saudi Arabia has sparked a Twitter storm over the country's human rights abuses against women and the LGBT+ community.
2 min read
16 July, 2019
BTS are due to perform in Riyadh on October 11 [AFP]
Popular K-pop boyband BTS faced a backlash from fans after announcing that they will perform their first concert in Saudi Arabia later this year.

BTS, short for Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts, are due to perform in Riyadh on October 11.

The band faced fierce criticism over the planned concert from their fans on twitter. 

"The prince had someone executed, gay people are publicly whipped and thousands are tortured because they dare to speak out about the regime... this is not a good thing they are going here," one Twitter user said.

"Yes, very disappointed @BTS_twt is ignoring the human rights abuses there and the way they treat women and reporters," another user said.

"This is such a bad business move this is really a big f*** you Saudi women, LGBTQ fans but also to Muslim fans especially what happening in Yemen… doesn't this contradict their message? Of love yourself?" another user said.

"They are right now committing human rights violations and BTS is lending them their legitimacy all in the name of cash," said another

In September, the band's lead singer RM made a speech to the United Nations in New York about how music allowed him to overcome worries about "what other people thought of me", and start to "love myself, little by little".

The floppy-haired musicians, whose ages range from 21 to 26 and who often sport earrings and lipstick, appeal to a generation that feels comfortable with the idea of fluid gender identity, according to Samantha Lifson, writer at Seoul-based pop culture magazine, K-Soul.

Activists have urged artists to "refuse the regime's money" and use their global influence to call for freedoms for women and the LGBT+ community.

Amnesty International has described the Saudi human rights record as "abysmal," adding that the nation is in the "grip of a sweeping crackdown against critics of the government."

The music concerts in Saudi Arabia, which forbid alcohol and have a strict social code, come as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pursues a sweeping "liberalisation" drive that has led to new cinemas, concerts and sporting extravaganzas.

These apparent reforms however, do not include measures to allow freedom of expression or association or improve Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

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