Saudi Arabia, GCC demand Netflix remove content that ‘violates Islamic values’

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Saudi Arabia and 5 different Gulf Arab international locations issued a joint assertion demanding that Netflix remove content they are saying “violates Islamic and societal values and principles,” Saudi media has reported.

The assertion stated that the streaming big’s materials was in breach of presidency rules, although it didn’t make particular reference to which matters or exhibits broke these guidelines.

It’s broadly believed, nevertheless, and voiced by native media and officers, that Netflix exhibits that includes gay characters, same-sex kissing and youngsters portrayed in a sexual gentle are the targets of the directive.

The transfer was taken “in light of the recent observation that the platform was broadcasting visual material and content which violates content controls in GCC countries,” the assertion by the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media and the GCC Committee of Electronic Media Officials stated Tuesday.

The content “violates Islamic and societal values and principles. As such, the platform was contacted to remove this content, including content directed at children, and to ensure adherence to the laws.”

The GCC, or Gulf Cooperation Council, is comprised of the largely conservative, Muslim-majority states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. Homosexuality is criminalized in these international locations and might be punished by fines, jail time and even the demise penalty. 

The authorities additionally threatened authorized motion if Netflix fails to stick to its demand.

“All legal measures will be taken to protect the Kingdom’s sovereignty, citizens and residents from any intellectual attack aimed at affecting its societies, values, safety of upbringing their generations and protecting them from harmful content,” Esra Assery, CEO of the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media, advised Saudi outlet Arab News.

Netflix has not but publicly responded to the assertion and had no remark when contacted by CNBC.

A ban in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi state information channel Al Ekhbariya TV launched a televised report on the subject on Tuesday that includes clips from the Netflix animated present “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.” The report from the state community confirmed a blurred scene of two feminine characters expressing their love for each other and kissing.

Al Ekhbariya posted its report on its official Twitter account, which has 1.4 million followers, with the caption “Netflix promotes child homosexuality under a cinematic cover. Will #Netflix be blocked in Saudi Arabia soon?”

Another tweet from the state community learn, “Netflix threatens the healthy upbringing of children,” and spreads “immoral messages.” A video in its tweet featured the hashtags “#CancelNetflix” and “#BoycottNetflix.”

Saudis store at a grocery store on the Panorama Mall within the capital Riyadh.

Fayez Nureldine | AFP | Getty Images

Netflix has not responded to the accusations. But lots of its customers within the U.S. and Europe have celebrated the that includes of LGBTQ+ characters and content on the streaming platform, saying it units a constructive instance for inclusivity and illustration. Netflix nonetheless boasts the very best variety of customers of any paid-subscription streaming service, with some 220 million subscribers worldwide as of final June.

A YouGov survey from September 2021 discovered Netflix to be the preferred streaming service in Saudi Arabia, with 37% of residents within the kingdom saying they use it.

A crackdown on LGBTQ+ themes

This is way from the primary time authorities within the oil-rich Arab Gulf states have clashed with Western media on the subject of gay content. In June, the Gulf international locations, together with a number of others in East and South Asia, banned the cinematic launch of Disney Pixar’s animated film “Lightyear” over its that includes of a same-sex relationship and a short same-sex kiss.

And in July, e-commerce big Amazon was directed by the UAE authorities to dam search outcomes for LGBTQ-related merchandise on its UAE web site. Shortly earlier than that, authorities in Saudi Arabia raided a number of kids’s shops to grab rainbow-themed toys and clothes as a part of a crackdown on homosexuality, state media reported on the time.

The pushbacks in opposition to LGBTQ+ themes come as a few of the area’s international locations, significantly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, try and diversify their economies away from hydrocarbons and entice new funding.

Part of their methods consists of liberalizing reforms and stress-free some beforehand strict social legal guidelines to be able to entice expertise from different components of the world. Up till 2018, film theaters have been banned in Saudi Arabia; they’re now being constructed all around the nation as a consequence of these reforms, although censorship of sure content nonetheless applies.

Activists and human rights organizations have lengthy criticized the area’s legal guidelines on homosexuality, whereas its governments counter that the legal guidelines shield its non secular and cultural norms.

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