Netflix Blocks An Episode Of Hasan Minhaj's "Patriot Act" In Saudi Arabia Due To Jokes About The Kashoggi Killing

NPR- In the episode, Minhaj called Saudi Arabia’s actions a “cover-up” and went on to question the deep financial and political ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, the country’s involvement in Yemen and crackdowns on women’s rights advocates.

Last week, [the Saudi government] had Netflix remove the episode in that country. As the Financial Times first reported, a Saudi regulator cited a law that prohibits the “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers.”

In a statement to NPR, a Netflix spokesperson said, “We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law.”

Jokes about the Kashoggi killing were censored in Saudi Arabia? Not shocking. Netflix is AVAILABLE IN SAUDI ARABIA? Shocking. The Kingdom is one of the most censored countries on earth. I can’t access my normal Netflix queue when I go to goddamn Canada (I understand this is a copyright thing, and that Netflix is available in Canada). But to learn that Netflix has any operability in Saudi Arabia was a shock. A shock!

Undoubtedly, the streaming choices are a little different there. I’d guess that it’s mostly early Will Smith movies and maybe a few seasons of Top Gear, a show where men drive cars, praise be to God. But the fact that the rest of the episodes of Patriot Act are available means the censorship leash is a lot looser than I’d have thought.

What a perfect example of the current state of comedy, too. “Not mad… Not mad… Not mad… OH IT’S ABOUT US NOW?! MAD!!!!!” It’s all fun and games until the topical comic puts your country on the chopping block. Then it’s an angry email to the Saudi Netflix bureau chief from the royal family, and you heed those emails because if you don’t, you end up in an acid bath.