Netflix's first Arabic series Jinn sparks backlash in Jordan

Ahram Online , Wednesday 19 Jun 2019

A top prosecutor has called on the cybercrimes unit to 'stop the broadcast of the show,' while the Jordanian Royal Film Commission said that watching the series is a matter of 'personal choice'


Jordanian series Jinn, the first Arabic original production by Netflix, has drawn criticism after its recent release on the online streaming service over scenes that officials and members of the public deemed inappropriate.

A top Jordanian prosecutor has asked the Ministry of Interior's cybercrimes unit to take "immediate measures to stop the broadcast" of the series over "immoral scenes."

Mohammed Khalaileh, the Grand Mufti of Jordan, said that the show depicts a "moral breakdown that does not represent the habits and morals of Jordanians" and that it contravenes "Islamic precepts."

The controversy was sparked over a clip circulating on social media showing different scenes from the show where actress Salma Milhis kisses two different boys.

Many Jordanians have expressed shock over scenes showing teenagers kissing, swearing, discussing sex, drinking and smoking marijuana.

Jordan's parliamentary committee of media and national guidance was scheduled to discuss the series on Sunday, but delayed the meeting to allow the country’s attorney general to proceed with an “official investigation,” according to The National.

Committee head Mahasan Al-Shara'a said that members of the committee will meet with the ministers of culture and information to ensure that films or TV shows that "harm the morals of our dear Jordanian society" are not again allowed by the government.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian Royal Film Commission (RFC), which had approved the filming of the show in the country, has come to the series' defence, issuing a statement on Twitter clarifying the parameters of its role, which consists of encouraging local productions, attracting foreign productions and facilitating productions in general. 

"There is no censorship prerogative in the RFC's tasks and duties," the statement read, adding that Netflix is a subscription platform and that "the issue of whether or not to watch is a personal choice."

The statement also said that the debate over the show demonstrates a healthy diversity among the public.

"There is a wide discrepancy in people's reactions and comments on Jinn, both positive and negative. These divergent opinions reflect the diversity of Jordanian society, and it is a positive diversity."

Netflix has responded to the backlash against the show.

"Jinn seeks to portray the issues young Arabs face as they come of age, including love, bullying and more. We understand that some viewers may find it provocative but we believe that it will resonate with teens across the Middle East and around the world," the streaming service said in a statement.

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