The Egyptian government has accused Netflix of “falsifying Egyptian history” by presenting Cleopatra as black in their documentary.
“African Queens: Queen Cleopatra” sparked controversy with the release of the trailer two weeks ago. Now, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt released a lengthy statement which includes evidence they say proves Cleopatra had a “light complexion” and “Hellenistic characteristics.”
Dr. Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said casting a black actress as Cleopatra in the new Netflix documentary represents “a falsification of Egyptian history and a blatant historical misconception.”
“The film is classified as a documentary and not a drama, the order that the owners of its industry have to investigate accuracy and refer to historical and scientific facts in order to ensure that the history and civilizations of peoples is not falsified,” Dr. Waziri said, per The Daily Mail.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities included images of coins and artifacts along with the statement, which they claim prove how Cleopatra had “Hellenic (Greek) features, in terms of light complexion, drawn nose and fluffy lips.”
“Queen Cleopatra,” will debut May 10 with actress Adele James playing the lead role, while Jada Pinkett-Smith served as executive producer. This casting decision was “a nod to the centuries-long conversation about the ruler’s race” and has inspired controversy with historians in particular.
Director Tina Gharavi admitted that casting James was “a political act.”
“Doing the research, I realized what a political act it would be to see Cleopatra portrayed by a black actress,” Gharavi wrote in an essay for Variety.
“Why shouldn’t Cleopatra be a melanated sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white?” she asked. “Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians it seems to really matter.”
“So, was Cleopatra black? We don’t know for sure, but we can be certain she wasn’t white like Elizabeth Taylor,” Gharavi wrote. “We need to have a conversation with ourselves about our colorism, and the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated us with.”
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One Egyptian attorney even sued Netflix over the new project. Lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary filed a complaint with the public prosecutor saying “necessary legal measures” should be taken against Netflix services in Egypt, as The Daily Wire previously reported.
He accused the streaming giant of attempting to “promote the Afrocentric thinking … which includes slogans and writings aimed at distorting and erasing the Egyptian identity.”