Call this a case of life intimidating art. Netflix has removed an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj from streaming in Saudi Arabia after that country’s government complained that it showed the kingdom in a negative light.
The episode focused on Saudi Arabia in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Among the topics host Hasan Minhaj touched on were refering to Silicon Valley “swimming in Saudi cash” and criticizing of young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his kingdom-backed war in Yemen.
“Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the Patriot Act host said in the pulled episode. “And I mean that as a Muslim, and as an American.”
Netflix cited a local Saudi statute as its reason for yanking the episode. Per Article 6 of that law, “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers” is a crime. The punishment? A maximum of five years in prison and a fine of as much as $800,000.
The streamer later defended its decision in a statement, saying, “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.”
Critics say said law suppresses free speech and has been used to convict people who use social media to criticize the Saudi government.
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