Internet Censorship 2 min. read

How Netflix bowed down to Saudi Arabia by censoring a comedy show

How Netflix bowed down to Saudi Arabia by censoring a comedy show

Netflix bowed down to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by removing an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” where he criticized the government for ordering the murder of a Washington Post journalist.

The Netflix show is a first of its kind led by a Muslim American comedian. Minhaj began the show by criticizing the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. In the same episode, Minhaj explained how Saudi Arabia is committing war atrocities in Yemen.

This did not go down well with the Saudi government.

“It took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to go, ‘Oh, I guess he’s really not a reformer’,” Minhaj said of the Saudi prince.

A few weeks after releasing the episode, the Saudi government pushed Netflix into banning the episode under Article 6, Paragraph 1, of Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law, “Production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers.”

Violation of Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Minhaj responded to Netflix’s censoring of his show:

With over 2 million views, YouTube has yet to remove the episode, which is available worldwide. Viewers are commenting in support of Minhaj and his show.

“Came here because of censorship (on Netflix),” one viewer commented.  

It is not the first time we’ve seen an American company bow down to governments. While Netflix might simply be respecting a country’s sovereignty and laws, a line should be drawn when free speech is considered punishable by law. Minhaj is an American, after all. He spoke out and presented the truth on an American show, produced by an American company.

The Saudi government, therefore, has no right to censor that medium.

Government censorship is a weapon used to silence free speech. When companies bow down to such tactics and censor content, citizens, often, find other ways to bypass the restrictions. Many utilize tools like Hotspot Shield to access geo-restricted content online. If you need to access content, you can download Hotspot Shield for free below.

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