Netflix’s first Arabic original series sparks uproar in Jordan

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Netflix’s first Arabic original series shot in Jordan has stirred controversy in the Middle Eastern country as the prosecutor seeks to ban it after viewers accused it of presenting an immoral image of the kingdom.

“Jinn” is a supernatural drama about teenagers who encounter good and evil genies during their school trip to the ancient city of Petra.

While the five-episode show debuted worldwide with much fanfare, it has sparked uproar among many Jordanians, who took to Twitter to express their anger and call for its censoring.

Following the show’s release last week, Jordan’s top prosecutor has demanded that the cybercrimes department at the Ministry of Interior to take “immediate necessary measures to stop the broadcast” of the series because it includes “immoral scenes”.

The controversy revolves two scenes in which the character played by a female actor, Salma Milhis, kisses a different boy from her class.

One social media user said Jinn was an “obscene” drama that sought to “distort the conservative Jordanian society.”

Another user said the series would have a “dangerous effect” because it “negatively affects adolescents who are attracted to follow” the show.

Rashid Dahabreh, a Jordanian University graduate, tweeted about the “double standards” of Jordanian society as the female actor has come under fire, whereas the male actors involved in the kissing scenes have not.

“Salma Milhis who plays the role of Mira in the show is being subjected to insults about her honour, but no one is going after the male actor … this is an extension of the Middle Eastern mentality, that a man is allowed to be a sexual being but a woman is stigmatised as a prostitute under the same lens … double standard society,” he tweeted.

Others pointed out the hypocrisy of those expressing their anger, reminding them of their enthusiasm towards the last season of the hit HBO show Game of Thrones last month.

“They object to the Jinn show because it is against their morals. As if last month they weren’t all glued to their screens watching Game of Thrones,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Someone explain to me why it’s OK for Game of Thrones to have pornographic scenes and the Arabs are so happy with the show, but [Jinn] that has a kissing scene has outraged the entire nation?” another asked.

Translation: The only thing that’s Jordanian about the show is the city of Petra.

One user expressed her annoyance at the trending topic itself, tweeting: “May a jinn possess all of you, now change the subject!”

The website of the Jordanian army said the cybercrimes unit was attempting to pull the show from Jordanian Netflix.

The controversy led Jordan’s Media Commission to issue a statement saying it had no control over the production of the series and its censorship role was only applied on series and films that were broadcast on television or theatres in Jordan

Netflix Middle East denounced the controversy on Twitter as a “wave of bullying”.

In a statement on Friday, the streaming service said the show deals with “universal themes” that “can be viewed as provocative.” A spokesman said content removals were rare but that Netflix complied with official requests.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/netflix-arabic-original-series-sparks-uproar-jordan-190614172753351.html

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