Netflix has removed an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj after Saudi Arabia complained about repeated and hilarious jokes criticizing Saudi Crown Prince (and Jared Kushner bestie) Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).
In the episode titled “Saudi Arabia,” former Daily Show correspondent Minhaj ripped the Saudi prince for pretending to be a moderate reformer while indulging his brutal autocratic tendencies, like locking up his political rivals (including family members) in a hotel-turned-prison.
Minhaj also criticized the United States’ cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia, a relationship that’s now faltering after the MBS-ordered murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
“MBS asked, ‘Why the outrage?’ and frankly, MBS’ confusion is completely understandable,” Minhaj said. “He has been getting away with autocratic sh*t like [Khashoggi’s murder] for years with almost no blowback from the international community.”
According to the Financial Times, the episode violated Saudi Arabia’s anti-cyber crime law that bans “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers.”
“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,” a Netflix spokesperson responded after Huffington Post reporters sought comment on the incident..
Unfortunately for the Crown Prince, the internet extends beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia and trying to suppress criticism is sort of like trying to put a never-ending stream of toothpaste back in the tube.
That’s because whenever a celebrity or public figure tries to limit the spread of damaging information online it backfires, causing the information to spread quicker and further. It’s a phenomenon known as “the Streisand effect” after the singer tried to for a site to remove photos of her house in 2003.
Every artist whose work appears on Netflix should be outraged that the company has agreed to censor a comedy show because the thin-skinned royals in Saudi complained about it— Sarah Leah Whitson (@sarahleah1) January 1, 2019
.@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.— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 1, 2019
Quite outrageous that @netflix has pulled one of his episodes critical of Saudi Arabia.
Even though @netflix caved to Saudi pressure and pulled @hasanminhaj’s @patriotact Saudi Arabia episode, anyone can still watch them on @YouTube:— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 1, 2019
First one: https://t.co/KOaXr7pevp
And the follow-up: https://t.co/3sisGyQPM6#Khashoggi
The episode is still available on Netflix in the United States and it’s up on Patriot Act’s YouTube page. You can watch it here:
I’m sure Minhaj, who doesn’t pull any punches, appreciates the unintended free publicity from MBS.
h/t: Huffington Post