Netflix Asked to Remove Videos That ‘Contradict’ Islam

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Gulf Arab countries on Tuesday asked Netflix to remove “offensive content” on the streaming service, apparently targeting programs that show people who are gay and lesbian.

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

The statement was also published by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates via respective government websites. The six-nation council includes Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

While the statement didn’t elaborate, Saudi state television also aired video of an interview it conducted with a woman identified as a “behavioral consultant” who described Netflix as being an “official sponsor of homosexuality.” It aired footage at the same time of a cartoon, “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous,” in which two women kissed, though the footage was blurred out.

Saudi state TV also broadcast a segment suggesting that Netflix might be banned from the Kingdom due to its content reaching children.

Netflix, which is located in Los Gatos California, didn’t respond to Tuesday’s requests for comment.

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

Muslims view gays and lesbians as sinful. Some members of the LGBTQ group have been detained and taken to jail in some Arab countries. Many countries still have the death penalty.

The move also comes as regional streaming services try to eat into Netflix’s revenue, including the Shahid service operated by the Saudi-owned MBC Group. After a string of 2017 arrests made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in relation to corruption claims that led him to centralize power within the Kingdom, it is thought that Saudi Arabia holds a majority stake in MBC Group.

Saudi Arabia was the first country to offer Netflix limited content.

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

Netflix said at the time that Netflix removed the episode from the kingdom due to an order from authorities. It was not due its content.

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