Netflix has dropped an episode from the comedy show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj that was critical of the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s alleged role in the killing after a complaint by the kingdom’s rulers, Financial Times reported. The episode also called the ongoing war in Yemen, whose ousted president is being backed by a coalition that includes Saudi Arabia, “the biggest tragedy of the MBS era”.
“Netflix confirmed that it had removed the episode in Saudi Arabia last week, after the country’s Communications and Information Technology Commission made a request to take it down because it allegedly violated the kingdom’s anti-cyber crime law,” Financial Times reported. “Saudi Arabia has become an influential player in the technology and entertainment sectors through big investments by its sovereign wealth fund, which directly owns stakes in companies such as Uber and many other groups indirectly through its backing of Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund. Later in the removed episode, Mr Minhaj criticised Silicon Valley for ‘swimming in Saudi cash’ and urged tech companies to stop taking investment from the kingdom.”
In a statement to Financial Times, Netflix said, “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.” The episode is still available on the official Netflix channel on YouTube.
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj was premiered on October 28, 2018. The Indian-origin comedian will present 32 episodes on the show, which is also available in India.