Australian rapper Iggy Azalea has faced a wave of criticism and backlash for performing a song that many have deemed as ‘blasphemous’ and ‘anti-Islamic’ in Saudi Arabia. The song, titled Goddess, contains lyrics that refer to prophets and ask people to “bow down to a goddess“.
Azalea performed the song last Friday at the Gamers8 esports tournament in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. She started the song by shouting to the audience, “Ladies, make some noise, it’s a woman’s world!” She then proceeded to rap the controversial lines: “Preaching about prophets, it ain’t no one man can stop us, bow down to a goddess”.
The performance triggered a strong reaction from many social media users, who accused Azalea of disrespecting Islam and its values. Some also called out the Saudi authorities for allowing such a performance to take place in the kingdom, which is known for its conservative and religious culture.
“Saudi Arabia just sentenced the user of an anonymous Twitter account with 10 followers to death for criticising Mohammed bin Salman. Meanwhile, Iggy Azalea performed a concert in Riyadh where she mocked Allah and his Prophets in front of thousands,” one user wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“And no, no one is saying Iggy Azalea should be put to death, the point is it shows a ruler’s priorities when he considers someone mocking him a crime more severe than blasphemy,” the user added.
Another user branded Azalea as a “prostitute” and an “OnlyFans pornstar”, and argued that her lyrics were a stark violation of Saudi Arabia’s Islamic and cultural norms.
Azalea has not responded to the backlash yet. She posted a photo of herself on Instagram after the concert, with the caption: “Thank you so much Saudi Arabia! I had so much fun performing for you all tonight. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Love you all!”
The rapper is no stranger to controversy. She has been accused of appropriating black culture in her music and image, and has faced criticism for her use of racial slurs and homophobic language in the past.
The concert was part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to open up to entertainment and tourism, as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s Vision 2030 plan. The plan aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil and modernize its society.
However, the plan has also been met with skepticism and resistance from some segments of the population, who fear that it will erode their traditional and religious values. Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, and follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The kingdom has also been accused of cracking down on dissent and human rights activists, especially after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The crown prince has denied any involvement in the killing, but has admitted that he bears responsibility as the leader of the country.