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Netflix pulls Hasan Minhaj Patriot Act episode after Saudi Arabia complains about Jamal Khashoggi jokes

Netflix confirmed it had removed the episode after a complaint stating it had violated Saudi anti-cybercrime law

Clarisse Loughrey
Wednesday 02 January 2019 08:31
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Netflix pulls Hasan Minhaj Patriot Act after Saudi Arabia complains about Jamal Khashoggi jokes

Netflix has come under fire for removing an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act in Saudi Arabia due to its criticism of the kingdom’s rulers.

The second episode of the US satirical comedy series was pulled after it criticised Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in connection to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the kingdom’s royal family, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his death, before claiming he had been murdered in a “rogue operation” on the orders of an intelligence officer.

“They went through so many explanations, the only one they didn’t say was that Khashoggi died in a free solo rock climbing accident,” Minhaj jokes on the show.

Saudi Arabia has since charged 11 people with the journalist’s death, but strongly denies that the crown prince ordered the killing. In December, the US Senate passed a resolution stating that the crown prince is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

The Patriot Act episode also sees Minhaj criticise Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen.

Netflix confirmed to the Financial Times it had pulled the episode after receiving a complaint from the kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, stating the streaming service had violated Saudi anti-cybercrime law.

A spokesperson for Netflix 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 in question, however, is reportedly still available in Saudi Arabia on YouTube.

Karen Attiah, who was Khashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post, called Netflix’s decision “quite outrageous”.

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She added in a tweet: “@hasanminhaj of @patriotact has been a strong, honest and (funny) voice challenging Saudi Arabia + Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder. He brought awareness about Yemen.”

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