Saudi Arabia and its gulf neighbors issued a joint statement that demanded Netflix remove material the Arab countries say violates Islamic values and principles.
The statement alleges that Netflix breached unspecified government regulations by “broadcasting visual material and content which violates content controls in GCC countries,” according to the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media and the GCC Committee of Electronic Media Officials.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic union of six Middle Eastern countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The joint statement was issued after Al Ekhbariya TV, a Saudi state news channel, posted a televised report on its official Twitter account titled “Netflix promotes child homosexuality under a cinematic cover. Will #Netflix be blocked in Saudi Arabia soon?”
The report featured clips from Netflix’s Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, which included a blurred-out clip of a same-sex kiss between two female characters.
The largely conservative Arab countries of the GCC hold that homosexual activity is a crime that can be punishable by fines, prison time, and even the death penalty.
The Saudi news network followed up its report with a tweet, stating, “Netflix threatens the healthy upbringing of children” and spreads “immoral messages.” The hashtags “#CancelNetflix” and “#BoycottNetflix” were included in the Twitter post.
Arab authorities have threatened legal action against Netflix if the streaming giant refuses to remove the alleged “immoral” and “offensive” material, which likely includes any content with homosexual characters, same-sex kissing, or children being portrayed in a sexual light.
“All legal measures will be taken to protect the Kingdom’s sovereignty, citizens and residents from any intellectual attack aimed at affecting its societies, values, safety of upbringing their generations and protecting them from harmful content,” said Esra Assery, CEO of the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media.
Even though Netflix is being asked to remove its supposedly controversial content, the streaming service remains quite popular in the region.
Netflix was the most popular streaming service in Saudi Arabia, with 37% of respondents claiming to use it in a YouGov survey from September 2021.
A ban on Netflix would not be out of step with recent actions by GCC countries. In June, multiple countries in the Middle East and Asia banned Disney Pixar’s Lightyear for including a same-sex relationship and kiss.