Investigation launched into Netflix's 'Jinn' amid uproar
prosecutor’s office on Saturday said it launched an investigation into a series which started airing on Netflix and caused a public uproar in the Kingdom, a senior judicial source said.
The supernatural teen drama “Jinn” depicted Jordanian teens reportedly uttering “vulgar words” and exchanging kisses, among other actions, that the "public" and some legislators deemed “offensive and lewd”.
The series, which was produced by an international company and filmed in different parts of Jordan, including the ancient city of Petra, tells the story of a group of teenagers whose friendships and emerging romantic relationships are put to the test when they invoke the supernatural powers of jinn. It has been available to Netflix viewers since Wednesday.
“We have contacted the Cyber Crime Unit to get more details and we will obtain a copy to watch the series so we can take further action,” a senior judicial source said.
The judicial source added that the prosecution office will “then decide whom to summon from the individuals and entities involved in the production of the series”.
Also on Saturday, Maan MP Ibrahim Bdour, who is head of the Education and Culture Committee, said the committee will convene a meeting on Sunday with government officials to discuss the series.
“There are many scenes and words that are not accepted and violate our social values and traditions,” Bdour told The Jordan Times.
The MP added the aim of the meeting is to ensure that such an incident will not be repeated again.
“We also want to discuss the matter with the concerned government officials and ministers to ensure that this scenario will not be repeated in the near future,” the MP said.
Bdour also stressed that “we want to deliver a message to the foreign production companies that they are welcome to film in Jordan but ensuring that filming does not violate our traditions and culture”.
Meanwhile, Netflix Middle East issued a statement on Friday, stating that the show deals with “universal themes” that “can be viewed as provocative”. A spokesperson said content removals are rare but that Netflix complies with official requests.
The Royal Film Commission (RFC) also issued a statement via its Twitter and Facebook accounts on Friday regarding “the controversial reactions regarding the series on Netflix”.
“It is important to clarify once again the role of the RFC. According to the law, by which the RFC was established, its role consists in encouraging local productions, attracting foreign productions and facilitating production in general. There is no censorship prerogative amongst RFC’s tasks and duties,” the RFC statement said.
Therefore, the RFC statement added, “we don’t look into the scripts. This doesn’t mean that we are shying away from our responsibilities but rather sticking to our tasks and duties. This doesn’t mean either that the RFC condones or approves or encourages the content of a film or a series”.
There are demands for more individual freedoms and choices, according to the RFC. But then when “we are faced with issues like this, some people tend to forget about these legitimate demands. After all, this is also an issue of personal choice to watch or not to watch content that we may not all agree upon”.
The RFC statement added: “It is important to remember that ‘Jinn’ is fiction, not a documentary. Therefore it is not meant to reflect the reality nor even a large part of it.”
The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) also said it was following up on the latest developments regarding the series, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported on Saturday.
“The production of such series is not within our jurisdiction and our role does not include monitoring the content and the script,” the JTB said.
The JTB added that “its role as stipulated in its regulations is to facilitate the missions for the companies and institutes that use the tourist sites in the Kingdom”.
“The JTB’s role is to issue approvals for licensed production companies inside the country and has no role in examining the scripts or scenarios.”
The Jordan Media Commission (JMC) issued a statement on Thursday saying this series “does not fall within its jurisdiction”.
“The JMC is not responsible for the monitoring and viewing of the series’ script or any technical matters related to filming, production or directing,” the JMC statement said.
The RFC released a statement in August 2018 to announce that the series will be filmed in Jordan.
“‘Jinn’, which will bring Middle East folklore into the modern world, explores contemporary themes of jinn mythology [genies or supernatural creatures in early Arabian and later Islamic mythology] with a coming of age supernatural story about friendship, love and adventure,” the RFC statement said at the time.
The series is expected to be shot in Petra, Wadi Rum and a dozen other locations in Amman over 10 weeks, the statement said at the time, adding that approximately 55 Jordanian crew members — including trainees and interns — will be working on the production.
Produced by Kabreet Productions, the drama is directed and executive produced by Mir-Jean Bou-Chaaya (the Lebanese director of “Very Big Shot”) and also executive produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani (producers of the short film “Seam”), with Elan Dassani serving as head writer, the JMC statement said.
The Jordanian director of the Sundance Award-winning “Captain Abu Raed”, Amin Matalqa, will be directing the last three episodes of the six-episode series.