Big Tech Self Censors: Netflix Stands Down to Foreign Saudi Arabia Pressure, Pulls Comedy Show

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Posted: Jan 02, 2019 1:45 PM
Big Tech Self Censors: Netflix Stands Down to Foreign Saudi Arabia Pressure, Pulls Comedy Show

Netflix, the popular TV streaming service recently pulled a sitcom episode featuring a popular comedian who criticized Saudi Arabia's action in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Netflix caved and removed the show following the kingdom's request for it to be taken down. 

The show, “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” faced harsh backlash from Saudi Arabia and later received a complaint from the Saudi's Communications and Information Technology Commission. The commission claimed that the show violated the kingdom’s "cyber crimes law" and removal was the next necessary step. 

The controversy comes as the show discusses Saudi Arabia and the killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, while portraying his death as the fault of the Saudi Arabia Kingdom. The episode that was pulled continues to be on Netflix’s website in other countries, such as the United States.

One of the monologues in question by the Saudi Arabia Kingdom was the following from stand up comedian Minhaj, “The Saudis were struggling to explain his disappearance: they said he left the consulate safely, then they used a body double to make it seem like he was alive.” 

Minhaj continued, “At one point they were saying he died in a fist fight, Jackie Chan-style. They went through so many explanations. The only one they didn’t say was that Khashoggi died in a free solo rock-climbing accident.”

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Pushback has also come from many in Washington, D.C., who accuse the tech giant of a snug relationship with foreign interests along with other companies in Silicon Valley.

Reuters reports

Netflix officials were not immediately available for comment and no statement was posted on its official corporate, Facebook or Twitter sites.

Saudi Arabia officials also were not immediately available for comment.

But in a statement to the Financial Times and other media, Netflix confirmed that it removed the episode in Saudi Arabia last week after the kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission asked that it be removed because it allegedly violated the kingdom’s anti-cyber crime law.

“We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we received a valid legal request - and to comply with local law,” a Netflix official said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter publication. 

The New York Times reported that the episode is still available in Saudi Arabia on the YouTube platform.

The monologue from Minhaj has now accumulated over 1.4 million views on Youtube.

Townhall has reached out to both Netflix and Human Right Watch for comments.