Indonesian Ulema Council considers declaring Netflix haram for its ‘negative content’

Screen grab showing Netflix’s Bahasa Indonesia user interface.
Screen grab showing Netflix’s Bahasa Indonesia user interface.

Indonesian Muslims could soon be prohibited from watching Netflix, let alone chill.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s highest Islamic clerical body, says it’s looking into issuing a fatwa (religious edict) declaring Netflix to be haram, or forbidden for consumption by Muslims, should they find any “negative content” on the platform. 

Hasanuddin, chairman of MUI’s fatwa council, said social media and other digital platforms are vulnerable to being compromised with negative content, which they define as content that are at odds with religious and legal norms in Indonesia. He suggested that everyone ought to filter Netflix’s content in the country. 

However, it appears that the possible issuance of a fatwa is merely a precaution for now, as Hasanuddin said MUI hasn’t actually received any report related to Netflix from the public. He highlighted how fatwas on “deviant sexual behavior,” pornography, terrorism, as well as violence have already been issued in Indonesia, adding that MUI will simply have to wait for the reports.

“If there are any members of the public who object to Netflix’s services and require a fatwa, MUI will immediately look to [their reports] and we will decide in the MUI’s fatwa plenary session. Issuing fatwa against negative content on Netflix will not take a long time for MUI,” Hasanuddin said yesterday, as quoted by Tempo.

It also seems that Hasanuddin belongs to a small group of people in the country who appreciated measures taken by state-owned telco Telkom and its internet service subsidiaries, which still block Netflix on their network. Though it’s worth noting that Telkomsel said it was considered lifting its ban on Netflix due to demand from 4 million users.

There has been an ongoing “feud” between Indonesian authorities and the streaming giant over the past year. Last August, the country’s censorship board, the Indonesian Broadcast Commission (KPI), proposed that they provide oversight of platforms like Netflix and Youtube to ensure that they comply with Indonesia’s broadcast standards. 

Earlier this month, Indonesia’s Communications and Information Minister Johnny G Plate stated that Netflix should not air its original series or films produced by countries that are not Indonesia in order to make way for the country’s creatives — only to follow up days later that they should consider lowering their subscription prices to combat illegal streamers.

More recently, an online campaign aiming to sway public opinion against Netflix in Indonesia — in the form of the trending hashtag #NetflixTidakAman (Netflix is not safe) — did not yield its desired outcome as netizens were quick to find out that many of the tweets were duplicates posted by bots.

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