The comedian, who criticized U.S.-Saudi ties over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, delivers response on Twitter.
(This post has been updated to include a response from Hasan Minhaj on Twitter.)
An episode of Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj, a popular show on Netflix was pulled back in Saudi Arabia after a legal threat by the government.
The segment under scrutiny had the American comedian with Indian roots, poking fun at U.S. ties with the Saudi regime. In his trademark sarcastic style, he also mocked the Saudi attempts to explain the murder of dissident journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
In the episode Minhaj jokes about the Saudi’s explanation of Khashoggi’s disappearance and says: “The Saudis were struggling to explain his disappearance. They said he left the consulate safely, then they used a body double to make it seem like he was alive.” The comic added: “At one point they were saying he died in a fistfight, Jackie Chan-style. They went through so many explanations. The only one they didn’t say was that Khashoggi died in a free solo rock-climbing accident.”
Talking about the Crown Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia, touted in the Arab world as a reformer, Minhaj said during the episode: “The only thing he’s modernizing is Saudi dictatorship.”
Last week, Netflix removed the episode from its service in Saudi Arabia after it received a request from the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission. It was said that the content was in violation to the kingdom’s cyber-crime laws.
The move that was bound to gather criticism over freedom of artistic expression, had the mass streaming service release an explanation. In a statement, Netflix said: 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.
The episode titled Saudi Arabia, was first aired on October 28 and is available to watch on Netflix in all other territories.
While Minhaj, who was born to Indian parents in California, has not commented since the yanking off of the episode in Saudi Arabia, it is certain that he was aware that his comments may take a political repercussion. He even spoke in an interview with The Atlantic that appeared in December that there was a lot of discussion in his family about not doing it but looks like the comedian chose his artistic expression over fears.
The weekly television comedy show first premiered on Netflix on October 28 and has been met with positive reviews thus far with a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.9/10 rating on IMDb.
Minhaj took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon and wrote: “Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube,” He posted his tweet for his fans on Instagram too but not without another comment that said – “Fun Fact: Our episode is actually locked up in a Ritz Carlton. Minhaj also took it as an opportunity to call for donations for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. He also wrote – Let’s not forget the
world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now. He posted a link for donations: https://help.rescue.org/donate/yemen”
Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.
— Hasan Minhaj (@hasanminhaj) January 2, 2019
The global streaming service received the ire as many critics see it as a violation of artistic freedom.