Brow Beat

Netflix Pulls Patriot Act Episode in Saudi Arabia After Government Complaint

Netflix is facing criticism after the streaming giant blocked an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj at the demands of the Saudi Arabian government. The episode criticizes Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, urged the U.S. to reconsider its longstanding support of the country, and called out Saudi Arabia for the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Netflix removed the episode from its service in Saudi Arabia last week after receiving a takedown request from the Saudi government’s Communications and Information Technology Commission.

The request cited Saudi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime laws, which prohibit the “production, preparation, transmission or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals and privacy” on the internet.

In a statement to NPR, a Netflix spokesperson said, “We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request—and to comply with local law.”

The episode is still available on the streaming service outside of Saudi Arabia, and according to the Financial Times, the episode can be viewed in Saudi Arabia on Patriot Act’s YouTube channel.

“Just a few months ago, Mohammed bin Salman, MBS, was hailed as the reformer the Arab world needed,” says Minhaj in the episode, “but the revelations about Khashoggi’s killing have shattered that image. It blows my mind that it took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to understand he’s not a reformer”—a fact that Minhaj added was of no surprise to every Muslim person he knows.

“Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And I mean that as a Muslim, and as an American,” Minhaj says.

Still, many companies including Snap, Uber, and Lyft have accepted major investments from Saudi Arabia. Netflix plans to release its first original Arabic-language production, Jinn, later this year.