ADVFN News | Arab Gulf countries threaten Netflix over content that ‘violates Islamic values’

Saudi Arabia and five other Gulf Arab countries issued a joint statement demanding that Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) to remove content it says “violates Islamic and social values ​​and principles,” Saudi media reported.

Netflix is ​​also traded on B3 via ticker (BOV:NFLX34).

The statement said the streaming giant’s material violates government regulations, although it did not specify which topics or shows violated those rules.

However, it is widely believed, expressed by the media and local authorities, that Netflix series featuring homosexual characters, same-sex kisses and children portrayed in a sexual light are targets of the directive.

The move was made “in light of the recent observation that the platform has broadcast visual material and content that violates content controls in GCC countries,” Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media and the GCC Committee of Electronic Media Officials said in a statement on Tuesday. .

The content “violates Islamic and social values ​​and principles.” As such, the platform has been contacted to remove this content, including content aimed at children, and ensure compliance with the law.”

The GCC, or Gulf Cooperation Council, consists of mostly conservative Muslim-majority states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Homosexuality is criminalized in these countries and can be punished by fines, imprisonment or even the death penalty.

The authorities also threatened legal action if Netflix did not comply with their request.

“All legal measures will be taken to protect the sovereignty of the Kingdom, citizens and residents from any intellectual attack that has the intention of affecting their societies, values, the safety of the education of their generations and protect them from harmful content”, Esra Assery, executive director General Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Audiovisual Media, the Saudi Arabian News Agency said.

Netflix has yet to publicly respond to the statement and has no comment.

Ban in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi state news channel Al Ekhbariya TV aired a television report on the issue on Tuesday with clips from the Netflix animated show “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.” A state network report showed a blurry scene of two female 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 the guise of a movie. THE #Netflix soon to be blocked in Saudi Arabia?”

Another tweet from the state network read: “Netflix threatens the healthy upbringing of children” and spreads “immoral messages”. The video in his tweet included the hashtags “#CancelNetflix” and “#BoycottNetflix.”

Netflix has not responded to the allegations. But many of its users in the US and Europe celebrated the streaming platform’s presentation of LGBTQ+ characters and content, saying it was a positive example of inclusivity and representation. Netflix still has the most users of any paid subscription streaming service, with around 220 million subscribers worldwide as of last June.

A September 2021 YouGov poll found Netflix to be the most popular streaming service in Saudi Arabia, with 37% of the kingdom’s residents saying they use it.

Suppression of LGBTQ+ issues

This is not the first time that the authorities in the oil-rich Arab countries in the Gulf have clashed with the Western media over the topic of homosexual content. In June, the Gulf countries, along with several others in East and South Asia, banned the animated film “Lightyear” from showing in theaters because of its portrayal of a same-sex relationship and a brief same-sex kiss.

And in July, e-commerce giant Amazon was ordered by the United Arab Emirates government to block search results for LGBTQ products on its UAE website. Shortly before that, Saudi Arabian authorities raided several children’s stores to confiscate rainbow-themed toys and clothing as part of a crackdown on homosexuality, state media reported at the time.

The reaction to LGBTQ+ issues comes at a time when some countries in the region, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are trying to diversify their economies away from hydrocarbons and attract new investment.

Part of his strategy includes liberalizing reforms and relaxing some previously rigid social laws to attract talent from other parts of the world. Until 2018, cinemas were banned in Saudi Arabia; they are now being built across the country because of these reforms, although censorship of certain content is still in place.

Activists and human rights organizations have long criticized regional homosexuality laws, while their governments dispute that the laws protect their religious and cultural norms.

With information from CNBC

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