Anger as Netflix Pulls Show in Saudi Arabia

By Broadcast, Jesse Whittock | Screen International, January 2, 2019 | Go to article overview

Anger as Netflix Pulls Show in Saudi Arabia


Broadcast, Jesse Whittock, Screen International


Government complained over Khashoggi jokes in US comedy Patriot Act.

Netflix has been forced on the defensive after it dropped an episode of a stand-up comedy series following complaints from the Saudi Arabian government.

The service pulled the episode from US Netflix original Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj in Saudia Arabia to comply with local anti-cybercrime laws following the complaint from the country’s Communications and Information Technology Commission.

The issue hinges on former The Daily Show comic Minhaj’s commentary on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in October.

Minhaj mocked Saudi Arabia’s various claims around the death, which had evolved from initially claiming he was alive to another that said he died in a fist fight. The country now claims Khashoggi was killed within the consulate by a rogue intelligence officer and has detained more than 20 Saudi nationals and fired two senior officials.

Minhaj also criticised financial links between Saudi Arabia and the US and alleged local human rights abuses.

Though Netflix’s decision to drop the episode was localised to the Middle Eastern kingdom, human rights groups, news organisations and artist bodies criticised Netflix on freedom of expression grounds and for facilitating the suppression of free speech. …

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