Netflix Now Feared to Toe Riyadh Line as it Removes Comedy Show Lashing Saudi Arabia

Published January 2nd, 2019 - 11:16 GMT
(Screenshot/YouTube/Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj)
(Screenshot/YouTube/Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj)

On Tuesday, media reports confirmed that Netflix, the giant internet streaming service, removed an episode of a comedy show that criticizes Saudi Arabia. It was upon a demand by the Saudi government.

And this action took the social media by storm. For many bloggers it was a shock.

The Financial Times reported, citing Netflix, that it removed the second episode of the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ in Saudi Arabia last week upon a request by the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission. It demanded that Netflix cancel the episode for “violating the Kingdom’s anti-cyber crime law”.

The removed episode focuses on the diplomatic crisis faced by Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. Host Hasan Minhaj criticizes Saudi Arabia’s conservatism and the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman which is purportedly behind the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

“Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And I mean that as a Muslim, and as an American” Minhaj says in the beginning of the episode.

The news flooded social media.

Netflix was criticized for succumbing to the Saudi demand to censor their content at a time they are, allegedly, calling for freedom and democracy.

It brought back concerns about the Saudi government control over giants in the Silicon Valley, who “swim in Saudi cash”, as Minhaj says.

In his episode, Minhaj urges tech companies to stop investing in Saudi Arabia for many reasons he explains, highlighting how Saudi Arabia is becoming more influential than ever in the technology and entertainment sectors through big investments.

This is becoming clear after Netflix failed to resist the Saudi government demand by removing the episode.

Meanwhile, several questions were raised by social media users who expressed their surprise and shock.

Some also thought the episode was removed from Netflix whether on satellite TV or different digital media plateforms. 

Netflix MENA went to Twitter to announce censoring the episode for “legal reasons” after receiving many questions  from users who asked whether it will be removed from Netflix in all countries or not.

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