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Gulf states warn Netflix over content that violates Islam

Gulf states warn Netflix over content that violates Islam

Gulf countries Tuesday threatened Netflix with legal action for broadcasting content that “contradicts” Islam, and Saudi state media indicated that the offending material centred on shows depicting sexual minorities.

A statement issued jointly by the Saudi media regulator and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, headquartered in the Saudi capital Riyadh, did not specifically identify the offending material, referring only to content that “contracts Islamic and societal values”.

“The platform was contacted to remove this content, including content directed to children,” the statement said.

Regional authorities “will follow up on the platform’s compliance with the directives, and in the event that the infringing content continues to be broadcast, the necessary legal measures will be taken.”

Saudi state media went further, highlighting movies and shows featuring LGBT characters.

There was no immediate reaction from Netflix.

One segment on the state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel deplored “movies and series for children with scenes promoting homosexuality under a dramatic cover via Netflix”.

A lawyer said in an on-air interview that these were “very unfortunate and painful clips for our children, grandchildren and the next generation”.

A separate segment, also on Al-Ekhbariya, showed clips from the animated show Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous in which two female characters kiss, though the channel blurred their faces.

The channel interviewed a self-described “family and educational adviser” who said offensive material was “sneaking into our homes” and that the country faced a “censorship crisis”.

Gulf countries have repeatedly locked horns with US film distributors over content related to sexual minorities, especially in films.

The United Arab Emirates in June banned the Disney animated film “Lightyear”, which contains a lesbian kiss.

The UAE is considered one of the more liberal countries in the Gulf region, though films with adult content are routinely cut or edited.

Saudi Arabia, which only opened cinemas in 2017, asked Disney in April to cut “LGBTQ references” in the Marvel superhero film “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”.

Disney did not comply and the film ultimately was not screened in the kingdom.

In June, Saudi state media filmed officials seizing rainbow-coloured toys and articles of clothing from shops in the capital as part of a crackdown on homosexuality, which is a potential capital offence in the kingdom.

Items targeted in the raids included rainbow-coloured bows, skirts, hats and pencil cases, most of them apparently manufactured for young children.

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