Regional broadcaster MBC's Shahid streaming platform has removed the first episode of a series depicting the hijacking of Kuwait Airways Flight 422 in 1988 after it caused an uproar and legal action from the Kuwaiti government.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Information said it appreciated MBC's response to its request to cancel the broadcast of the series, which it considered “an insult to the symbols of Kuwait and its citizens”.
Shiite gunmen hijacked the Kuwait Airways jumbo jet en route from Thailand to Kuwait City on April 5, 1988 with 112 people on board, including three members of the Kuwaiti royal family.
The hijackers diverted the Boeing 747 to Iran, Cyprus and Algeria, demanding that Kuwait free 17 pro-Iran extremists convicted over the bombings of the US and French embassies there in 1983. The hijacking ended 16 days later with the gunmen allowed to leave Algiers for an undisclosed destination.
Kuwait blamed Hezbollah commander Imad Mughnieh, who was assassinated in February 2008, for the hijacking and the deaths of two passengers.
The first episode of the MBC series Al Jabriya: Flight 422, which was to be released in six weekly instalments, was no longer accessible on Friday, with links leading to an error page on its streaming site.
Kuwait's Information Ministry said it had "communicated with all officials in the relevant authorities to express its dissatisfaction with the work and to stress the need to stop broadcasting it on the platform after the unified Gulf position and joint covenants in this regard, indicating that it has begun legal procedures against the Kuwaiti crew participating in the series”.
While the ministry did not specify Kuwait's objections to the series, Kuwaitis shared a clip from the series depicting a phone call between the prime minister at the time, Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, and Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation who was trying to assist in ending the hijacking. The first episode also showed the emir at the time, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah surviving a bomb attack on his motorcade in 1985.
The ministry cautioned members of Kuwait’s cinema and television industry, including producers, script writers and actors, to “place respect for the sovereignty of the Gulf state and its components in mind during the production of their dramas, and to distance themselves from what might be a cause for striking the Gulf unity and disturbing the deep-rooted fraternal relations”.
Al Jabriya: Flight 422 brought together Kuwaiti and Lebanese actors, including Ibrahim Al Zadjali, Khaled Amin, Ibrahim Al Harbi, Mohammed Al Ajimi, and Faisal Al Amiri.