• Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Arab Gulf countries urge Netflix to remove ‘offensive’ videos

ByMary M. Ward

Sep 10, 2022

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Arab Gulf nations on Tuesday called on Netflix to remove “offensive content” on the streaming service, apparently targeting programs that show gay and lesbian people.

A joint statement released on behalf of a committee of the Gulf Cooperation Council made the request, saying the unspecified programs “contravene Islamic and societal values ​​and principles.”

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also released the statement through their respective governments. Along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, they form the six-nation council.

Although the statement did not give details, Saudi state television also released video of an interview it conducted with a woman identified as a “behavioral consultant” who described Netflix as a “official sponsor of homosexuality”. At the same time, it released images of a cartoon, “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous”, in which two women were kissing, although the images were blurred.

Saudi state television also aired a segment suggesting that Netflix may be banned in the kingdom due to such programming reaching children.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

The move comes after countries in the Muslim world in June banned the public viewing of Disney’s latest animated film “Lightyear” for a brief moment showing two lesbian characters kissing. After that, the company’s Disney+ streaming service said its “available content should comply with local regulatory requirements” in Arab Gulf countries.

Many Muslims view gays and lesbians as sinners. In parts of the Arab world, members of the LGBTQ community have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms. Some countries even retain the death penalty.

The move also comes as regional streaming services attempt to chip away at Netflix’s revenue, including the Shahid service operated by Saudi-based MBC Group. The Saudi government is believed to hold a majority stake in MBC Group after a series of arrests in 2017 ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over corruption allegations saw him centralize power in the kingdom.

Netflix previously had limited content in Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, activists lambasted the streaming service for pulling an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” that criticized Prince Mohammed for the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the involvement of the kingdom in the war in Yemen.

Netflix said at the time that the episode was removed from the realm following a legal request from authorities and not because of its content.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.