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Netflix Pulls Episode of Muslim-American Comedian’s Show After Saudi Arabia Complains

Melanie Arter
By Melanie Arter | January 3, 2019 | 3:33 PM EST

Muslim-American comedian Hasan Minhaj, formerly of the “Daily Show (Screenshot)

Muslim-American comedian Hasan Minhaj, formerly of the “Daily Show,” called on the United States to “reassess” its relationship with Saudi Arabia during an episode of his show “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.”

Minhaj began the episode, titled “Saudi Arabia,” by commenting on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling it “the most unbelievable cover story since Blake Shelton won Sexiest Man Alive.”

“This entire cover-up exists for one reason,” Minhaj said. He criticized Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman (commonly referred to as MBS).

“It blows my mind that it took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to go, ‘Oh, I guess he’s really not a reformer,” Minhaj said during the show.

“Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Minhaj said. “And I mean that as a Muslim, and as an American.”

“Remember, America hates terrorists. Saudi Arabia gave them passports. Saudi Arabia was basically the boy band manager of 9/11. They didn’t write the songs, but they helped get the group together,” he said.

 

Deadline reports that Minhaj’s criticism prompted the Saudi government to contact Netflix, citing a Saudi law that says “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers.”

Violating Article 6 of Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law is a crime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of as much as $800,000.

In response, Netflix pulled the episode titled “Saudi Arabia” from its streaming service in Saudi Arabia, 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.”

The “Saudi Arabia” episode is still available to subscribers in the United States.

Minhaj tweeted in response to Netflix’s decision, saying, “Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube. Let’s not forget that the world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now.”

He then provided a link to the International Rescue Committee and urged people to donate to its humanitarian efforts in Yemen.

 

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