Netflix debuted it's first-ever Arabic original series, shot entirely in Jordan, to much fanfare. Now the show is facing major backlash in the Middle Eastern nation.
The Jordanian prosecutor has called for the supernatural drama, Jinn, to be banned after some viewers said it presents an immoral image of the country, according to Aljazeera. Jinn is a drama series about teens who encounter genies who are both good and evil during a school trip to Petra, an ancient city in Jordan.
Some viewers have called for Netflix to censor the show, and are angry about the way it portrays Jordan. After the show premiered last week, Jordan's senior-most prosecutor ordered the cybercrimes department of the Ministry of Interior to take "immediate necessary measures to stop the broadcast" of Jinn, stating that it features "immoral scenes."
The website for the Jordanian army said the cybercrimes unit was working to pull the show from Netflix in Jordan.
According to Aljazeera, the controversy deals mostly with two particular scenes in which a character — played by female actor Salma Milhis — kisses a boy from her class.
Social media users have slammed the series as "obscene," accusing Netflix of seeking to "distort the conservative Jordanian society." Others said Jinn could have a "dangerous effect" on viewers, as it "negatively affects adolescents who are attracted to follow" what they see on screen.
Not everyone is up in arms about the show, however. Rashid Dahabreh, a Jordanian University graduate, defended the actress at the center of the drama. Dahabreh pointed out the "double standards" at play, noting that no one was angry at the boys involved in the kiss.
"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," Dahabreh tweeted.
Dahabreh wasn't the only one to defend Milhis, or the scene. Several other Twitter users expressed anger over the Jinn backlash, pointing out the enthusiasm Jordanians had over the final season of Game of Thrones.
"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 questioned.0comments
As a result of the drama, Jordan's Media Commission issued a statement saying it had no control over the production of the show. The commission added that its censorship role was only extended to series' and films broadcast on television or in theaters in Jordan.
Netflix Middle East has denounced the drama as a "wave of bullying" on Twitter. In a statement, the streaming service said Jinn deals with "universal themes" that "can be viewed as provocative." A spokesperson said Netflix rarely removes content from its platforms, but it does comply with official requests.