Entertainment giant Netflix is under fire after removing an episode of a comedy show that criticized Saudi Arabia following a request from that country, according to news reports.
The offensive content was in an episode of a show called “Patriot Act with Hansan Minhaj,” Agence France-Presse reported.
In the episode, Minhaj, who is an American-born Muslim of Indian descent according to CBS News, took aim at the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Minhaj criticized both Salman and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, AFP reported.
The comedian called the war in Yeman “the biggest tragedy of the MBS era,” referencing the prince by his initials.
According to AFP, Netflix confirmed that the episode was removed, but stressed that it was only unavaliable for Saudi viewers.
“We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law,” the company said according to the Financial Times.
Karen Attiah, Kashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post, called the Netflix decision “quite outrageous” in a multi-tweet posting.
Quite outrageous that @netflix has pulled one of his episodes critical of Saudi Arabia.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 1, 2019
The Post editor went on to share a YouTube version fo the video and encourage her followers to watch it, despite what the Saudi government might wish.
“In solidarity with @hasanminhaj, @patriotact and to honor the memory of Jamal #khashoggi, everyone should watch and share Hasan’s brilliant Saudi Arabia episode, which the Saudi government banned. It is still online on YouTube,” Attiah tweeted.
In solidarity with @hasanminhaj, @patriotact and to honor the memory of Jamal #khashoggi, everyone should watch and share Hasan’s brilliant Saudi Arabia episode, which the Saudi government banned. It is still online on YouTube: https://t.co/Lxl2Ky2eqY
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 2, 2019
Human rights groups also attacked the Netflix decision — and the Saudi regime.
“Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix… is further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression in the kingdom,” said Samah Hadid, director of Middle East campaigns for Amnest International, according to AFP.
“By bowing to the Saudi Arabian authorities’ demands, Netflix is in danger of facilitating the kingdom’s zero-tolerance policy on freedom of expression and assisting the authorities in denying people’s right to freely access information.”
The Saudi information ministry did not respond to requests for comment, AFP reported.
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