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Sun 16 Jun 2019 10:00 AM

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Netflix defends Jinn amid Jordan backlash

Supernatural thriller causes controversy and calls for censorship

Netflix defends Jinn amid Jordan backlash

The first Middle East Original drama series has provoked outrage in Jordan.

Combining themes of the supernatural and teen soap, Jinn, which is set in Jordan, launched on Thursday and was broadcast globally on Netflix.

But the five-part series on the streaming service came under fire almost immediately. State-run media reported how government officials had vowed to censor it for alleged “lewd scenes”. And Jordan’s army website revealed the cyber-crimes unit is attempting to pull it from Jordanian Netflix.

Set in modern Amman and ancient Petra, Jinn follows a group of Arab teenagers as their friendships and budding romances are tested when they unknowingly invite the supernatural forces of jinn into their world.

A statement from Netflix read: “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 Royal Film Commission Jordan moved to calm the situation with a clarification on its Facebook page pointing out that watching the series was an individual’s choice to make.

The statement said: “There is a wide discrepancy in people’s reactions and comments on Jinn – positive and negative – amongst Jordanians. Some attacked it for its boldness and for crossing some red lines, while others think that it reflects the reality of a certain age group from a certain societal component in Amman. These divergent opinions reflect the diversity of Jordanian society, and it is a positive diversity.”

It added: “Worth noting also that many of those who commented on Jinn haven’t seen it or have only seen excerpts of it, edited in a twisted manner and giving it a different bias.”

However, it stressed that it was taking all reactions seriously and sharing them with their Board of Commissioners.

Jinn is available in 190 countries in seven languages including French, Hindi and Portuguese. It can also be subtitled in a further 20 languages.

A Tweet from Netflix MENA on Friday said: “We have followed with regret the current wave of bullying against actors and staff in the Jinn series and we declare that we will not tolerate any of these actions and words of the crew. Our position has always been centres on the values of diversity and inclusiveness and therefore we are working to provide a safe space for all series and film lovers around the region.”

The primary cast includes Salma Malhas, Hamzeh Okab, Sultan Alkhail and Aysha Shahaltough, with the supporting cast including Ban Halaweh, Yaser Al Hadi, Zaid Al Zoubi, Karam Tabaa’, Mohammed Nizar, Abdelrazaq Jarkas, Mohammad Hindieh and Hana Chamoun.

Produced by Kabreet Productions, the drama is directed and executive produced by rising star, Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya and executive produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani who also served as writers.