Egyptian Government Slaps Jada Pinkett Smith’s ‘Cleopatra’: ‘Falsification Of Egyptian History’

Egyptian Government Accuses Netflix of Falsifying History in Cleopatra Documentary

The Egyptian government has accused Netflix of “falsifying Egyptian history” by presenting Cleopatra as black in their documentary, “African Queens: Queen Cleopatra.” The controversy sparked with the release of the trailer two weeks ago, and now the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt has released a lengthy statement including evidence they say proves Cleopatra had a “light complexion” and “Hellenistic characteristics.”

Historical Misconception

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 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.”

Casting Controversy

“Queen Cleopatra” will debut on 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.”

  • 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?”
  • “Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians it seems to really matter,” she added.

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. 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.”


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