Netflix started the year off strong, censorship-wise, by complying with Saudi Arabia’s legal request that the streaming platform pull an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act from Saudi Netflix due to its criticism of the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Sunday night, Hasan Minhaj returned to Netflix to give a big thanks to Saudi Arabia’s unscrupulous actions, without which his show might never have gone viral.
“For the first time in my life, I was a bipartisan icon,” Minhaj jokingly boasts. “Liberals and conservatives: They both embraced me like I was money from Big Phama.”
The fact the streaming network would be compelled to censor a political comedy show at all points to an issue with Saudia Arabia’s cybercrime law, the comedian says, which bans “material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals.” Unfortunately, as Minhaj points out, when the government is in control of what constitutes illegal material, material critical of the government suddenly becomes illegal.
In the end, Minhaj’s larger point is that as an American, he is afforded a safety Saudi activists targeted by the same law simply don’t have. “Ultimately, Saudi doesn’t care about ‘immoral content’ that impinges on ‘moral values,’” he declares. “They’re mad that a Muslim is airing out their dirty laundry.”