Jennifer Lopez Under Fire for Singing "Happy Birthday" to Dictator in Turkmenistan
Jennifer Lopez is under fire after a performance in Turkmenistan over the weekend during which she sang "Happy Birthday" to the country's dictator, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.
Human rights organizations have characterized Berdimuhamedow's leadership as oppressive, and Human Rights Watch has designated Turkmenistan as "among the most repressive [countries] in the world," according to The Associated Press.
Never miss an episode! Add new fall shows to your Watchlist
"Had there been knowledge of human rights issues any kind, Jennifer would not have attended," Lopez's rep told the AP in a statement.
It's unclear how much Lopez was paid for the performance.
The performance was not part of a political event, but the China National Petroleum Corp., which organized the concert, asked Lopez to give a birthday wish to Berdimuhamedow, who was in attendance, the AP reports.
Lopez isn't the first singer to face backlash after performing for a controversial political figure. Usher, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, 50 Cent and other artists all performed for Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi prior to his assassination in 2011. All claimed not to know Gadhafi was connected to terrorism and human rights violations and subsequently said they would donate their performance fees to charity.
Watch J.Lo's performance below.