Censorship
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Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦 is a Middle Eastern kingdom that is primarily Islamic, and has an Arab majority.

General censorship[]

Censorship is pervasive as it is an Islamic country, and the Saudi Arabian government's human rights record is poor. National law does not permit any independent media outlets from operating within Saudi Arabia. It is ranked 166th out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders' freedom of the press. Society is also exceptionally conservative, with the civic law on the land being based on Sharia. All forms of homosexuality are illegal and punishable by death.

Book censorship[]

  • Crayon Shin-chan - this manga was not released in multiple Arabic-speaking states due to its adult, risque and sexual content.
  • Jalila: Protector of the City of All Faiths and Aya: Princess of Darkness comics were banned in Saudi Arabia as the government considered the heroines' outfits indecent as per Islamic law.
  • Queen of Sheba and Biblical Scholarship - this history book is banned in Saudi Arabia for suggesting the Hebrews originated in Yemen and their Israelite successors established their original pre-586 B.C. kingdoms of Israel and Judah between Medina and Yemen.
  • Goat Days - this novel by Benyamin and Joseph Koyippally is banned in Saudi Arabia.
  • Fazail-e-Amaal - this Sufi evangelism book is banned in Saudi Arabia.

Movie censorship[]

While the film medium is not banned, public cinemas were outlawed from 1983 to 2017. In 2018 they started to open them up. The first film to be screened in Saudi Arabian theaters, Black Panther, was censored by removing 40 seconds of a scene of two characters kissing.

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - This film was banned as it features an LGBT character, in this case, America Chavez (who is a lesbian).
  • Harry Potter - between 2002 and 2018, any movie of the Harry Potter series was banned due to "occultism and satanic propaganda". The ban however was lifted in 2018.
  • Fahrenheit 9/11 - This movie was banned for its criticism of the Iraq war and for being an insult to the Saudi royal family.
  • The Kingdom - this film was banned for being a "false depiction" of a 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia.
  • King of the Sands - banned for depicting ibn Saud, Saudi Arabia's founder.
  • Noah - banned for depicting prophets (Noah is considered as an important prophet of Allah, according to Islamic teachings).
  • Onward - banned due to a minor reference to a lesbian relationship.
  • Bell Bottoms - this film based on real life hijacking events in India by Khalistani terrorists in the 1980s (such as the Indian Airlines Flight 423, 405 and 421 hijackings) was banned in Saudi Arabia in 2021 for allegedly tampering with historical facts, as the 1984 incident had the United Arab Emirates Defence Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the UAE authorities who got the hijackers, while the film portrayed Anshul Malhotra and his team of fellow RAW agents as the real heroes of the mission. The film was also banned in Qatar and Kuwait for the same reason.
  • Eternals - This film was banned after Disney declined a request by censors to edit scenes depicting a couple in a same-sex marriage.
  • West Side Story (2021) - this film based on the musical of the same name was banned in 2022 for portraying a transexual character.
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once - this film was banned due to the film's depiction of an openly gay character and a lesbian couple.
  • Sita Ramam - this Indian Telugu-language period romance film was banned in Saudi Arabia for reasons unkown, likely for "hurting religious sentiments".

Television censorship[]

  • Over 100 anime series featuring women as protagonists (including Magical Girl anime), were banned in Saudi Arabia (and other Arabic-speaking countries) due to many of these shows allegedly promoting "Zionism", sexual scenes and featuring elements that went against Islamic law but permitted in west; among these Magical Angel Creamy Mami, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sugar Sugar Rune, Magical DoReMi (after season 3) and Puny Puni Poemy. Because of this, Toei refused to release Sailor Moon in those countries (including Saudi Arabia) and remained unlicensed until Netflix announced the release date of Sailor Moon Eternal in these countries in 2021.
  • Al Jazeera - In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, among many other countries, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations that the Qatari government financiated terrorism. As part of the sanctions, Al Jazeera and other Qatari new agencies ceased to operate in Saudi Arabia, as well the sports network group beIN Sports, which has its HQ in Qatar and has a major stranglehold on many sports properties in the entire Middle East. A few months later, a pirate satellite called beoutQ, which rebroadcaste beIN Sports channels with beoutQ logo's overlaid over its own, as well as airing anti-Qatar propaganda during its programs. However, beIN and other sports organizations were not amused by the service, but no one knew who runs it. This got to the point where Saudi football fans could not even "legally" whatch the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which the Saudi team was in. The service shuttered in 2019, claiming they were upgrading the service, but never returned to air. An investigation eventually found that the service was operating in Saudi Arabia. The two countries would make amends in 2021, and beIN announced that Saudi Arabia was lifting their ban on the network, which just so happened to coincide with the Saudi royal family acquisition of Newcastle United announced a day later.
  • Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj - the second episode, "Saudi Arabia", was banned for being heavily critical of the Saudi government, specifically about the role of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the plot of the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hasan Minhaj discussed this incident in another episode of his show, "Censorship in China".

Generally, shows with LGBT characters are either banned or censored in Saudi Arabia. For example, when The Loud House was dubbed in Arabic, one of Clyde's dads, Howard, was changed to a woman.

  • Pokémon: due to the banning of the Trading Card Game (see below), Venus Center and Animation International ceased the distribution and dubbing of Pokémon in 2001. However, the Lebanon-based KM Productions and its sister company Super M Productions took over the dubbing production of the anime and recast everyone.
  • ALF: TBA as if the kissing scene or hugging scene and/or alcohol scenes are digitally removed or banned.
  • Pat & Mat: The heavily edited version of the series under the name "سويلم و عبيد (Sawilem and Obaid)". This dub sports a censored version of the episode Vinári which cuts the episode's ending, to omit a scene in which both main characters are seen consuming wine.
    • The instruments such as a guitar were removed, and the episode "Piano" was banned due to the episode featuring the eponymous instrument.
  • Donkey Hodie - seven episodes, "The Try Scouts", "Wiz Kazizz Kazaam", "Stanley's One-Dragon Show", "A Donkey Hodie Halloween", "Fashion Donkey" and "Bright Bright Bugs", were skipped from the Arabic dub due to having references not considerated acceptable in the local culture.

Video game censorship[]

Most banned games can be found in many stores due to a lack of government enforcement of bans (often at a substantial price). However, some major stores will not stock banned titles.

  • The God of War franchise games were banned for a few weeks due to the presence of interactive sex scenes, partial nudity and sexual themes, as well as the word "God" in the title. In 2018, the newest game in the series was approved for release.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was banned for setting the Middle East war part in Saudi Arabia. Although it is set on an anonymous country in Middle East, the satellite maps point roughly to Saudi Arabia.
  • Assassin's Creed was banned for two weeks because of a perceived negative portrayal of Arabs. Later, it was completely banned due to its use in the Blue Whale Challenge.
  • Luck Be a Landlord was banned in Saudi Arabia from Google Store for violating the gambling policies[1], as in gambling is forbidden under Sharia law.
  • Heavy Rain was banned because of high impact violence, nudity and a sex scene.
  • Pokémon Trading Card Game used to be banned in Saudi Arabia for "promoting gambling and Zionism", due to the Colorless type symbol resembling the Star of David.
  • Final Fantasy XVI - this game is banned in Saudi Arabia, and the only explanation given by the country's Public Authority for Media is that Square Enix refused to make the necessary modifications to the game for it to be approved, without actually specifying what those modifications are. Some guess that it was because of an on-screen kiss between two male characters and some material in the game's lore specifically refering to them as "lovers".
  • Marvel's Spider Man 2 - this game was reportedly being banned or delayed in some Middle Eastern countries[2] due to the presence of LGBT content. A censored Arabic version of the game was released[3], where Pride flags were removed and a side mission featuring a gay couple being altered.
  • Gacha Life - the popular dress up game was banned due to user generated content and issues with the community.

In response to child suicides in playing the Blue Whale Challenge, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media banned 47 video games from being sold in the Kingdom, including Assassin's Creed II, Bayonetta 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Grand Theft Auto V, Life Is Strange, Saints Row IV, Street Fighter V, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Internet censorship[]

Saudi Arabia blocked

Saudi Arabian Internet users see this message for those who attempted to access a blocked website. There is a link where they can request unblocking of the site.

Ranked "Not Free" by Freedom House's Freedom on the Net, scoring 24 out of 100 in 2021.[4]

  • The Saudi government uses an American filter to censor pornography and occasionally block access to blogs, journals, Flickr...
  • It is possible to bypass internet censorship in Saudi Arabia with the use of VPN services for fair uses.

References[]

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