Netflix's first original Arabic series, Jinn, sparked controversy in Jordan where people criticized the plot, claiming that it does not represent them nor their culture.
The five-episode season revolves around a group of teenagers on a high school trip to Jordan’s ancient city of Petra. During the excursion, they sneak out at night to drink beer, smoke weed and gossip around a bonfire, while one of the characters asks her playful boyfriend to take things slow.
The series has been widely condemned in Jordan for contradicting the country's morals and values, as it includes curses and kissing scenes.
“Let's respect people and their differences, because Jordan can house all categories, beliefs and lifestyles as long as they are peaceful…” Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Hussein defended the show in a tweet.
As Jordan’s grand mufti denounced the series as “a moral degradation", the government ministers pledged to censor it and lawmakers called for an emergency session.
Moreover, Jordan's attorney general demanded the cyber-crimes unit “take immediate, necessary action” to pull it from Netflix.
In defense, Netflix said the series “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 it will resonate with teens across the Middle East and around the world.”
“Unlike traditional broadcasting or cable TV, only members can watch Netflix – and they choose exactly what shows to watch,” the email went on. “People from all around the world have told us how much they love the wide range of high-quality content that Netflix offers – and the fact that they decide what, when and where to watch. There are ratings and detailed information on each show so members can make informed decisions about what’s right for their families, as well as a PIN-code system to ensure kids can’t watch content their parents consider inappropriate," Netflix MENA said in a statement carried by The Media Line.
“We make our content available to all our members, whatever their country – unless it’s a licensed show, where we only have limited rights, or, in the exceptional cases, where the government has forced us to remove a show."
The series was directed by Lebanese filmmaker Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya and locally produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani, featuring an all-Jordanian cast and backdrop.