Netflix has pulled an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj’s hit show ‘Patriot Act’ from Saudi Arabia, after succumbing to pressure from Saudi officials.
In the episode, Minhaj ridicules Saudi Arabia for their reaction to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He thereafter questions United States ties to the Saudis, saying that “now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”
Minhaj also went after Crown Prince Mohammed Ibn Salman in the show, saying:
It took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to go ‘Oh, I guess he’s really not a reformer.’”
Minhaj ended the show by shedding light on Saudi’s role in the bombardment of Yemen.
Netflix pulled the episode in Saudi after it received a complaint from Saudi’s Communications and Information Technology Commission. The complaint claimed that the episode violated Saudi’s anti-cybercrime law.
In a statement, Netflix said that they “strongly support artistic freedom worldwide” and only pulled the episode in the kingdom due to a “valid legal demand from the government” in an effort to “comply with local law.”
Critics have accused Netflix of caving into Saudi demands which undermine free speech.
Quite outrageous that @netflix has pulled one of his episodes critical of Saudi Arabia.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 1, 2019
The irony of banning this Hasan MInhaj episode on Netflix in Saudi Arabia is that its now become international news and is probably now going to be seen by millions of other newly curious people: https://t.co/aI637vCmDa
— Murtaza Mohammad Hussain (@MazMHussain) January 2, 2019
Patriot Act, a satirical comedy show, premiers a new episode on Netflix every Sunday and is also available on YouTube and Facebook.
Minhaj spoke out against the ban on Twitter by saying that the ban will only push more people to watch the show. He also brilliantly added to his response by calling for donations to Yemen.
Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.
— Hasan Minhaj (@hasanminhaj) January 2, 2019
In December, the US Senate passed a resolution which blamed the Crown Prince directly for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. They also voted to end US military support to Saudi in Yemen.