Egyptian lawyer sues Netflix over docuseries depicting 'black' Cleopatra
An Egyptian lawyer filed a complaint before the prosecutor-general last week, calling for shutting down the California-based Netflix streaming platform in Egypt after it had announced the release of a docudrama series depicting a black-skinned Queen Cleopatra, which sparked a massive discussion across the country.
Semary further claimed that "most of what Netflix displays contradicts Islamic and societal values and principles," and also accused the show of "promoting Afrocentrism that aims to distort the Egyptian identity."
Queen Cleopatra was born in Egypt's Mediterranean city of Alexandria in 69 BC and belonged to a Greek-speaking dynasty. She was Macedonian-Greek on her father Ptolemy XII's side. Cleopatra ruled over Ancient Egypt from 51 to 30 BC and was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.
Some historians argue that the ethnicity of her mother is unknown and that it is possible for her mother to be African. But prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawas begs to differ.
In an interview with the local Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, Hawas described the depiction of Cleopatra in the Netflix docudrama series as "a total forgery of facts."
"Cleopatra was Greek, meaning she was blonde, not black," he said. "The aim was promoting for the fact that the Egyptian civilisation was black….this [claim] is baseless."
Netflix's management, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
The show is scheduled to be released on 10 May starring actress Adele James.
This was not the first time Cleopatra became a subject of debate. In October 20202, the choice of Israeli actress Gal Gadot to play the role of Cleopatra in a Hollywood film sparked an outcry in Egypt, despite a state of technical peace with the Zionist state.
Netflix, itself, has not escape scrutiny by Egyptian authorities. In September last year, Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulation called on Netflix and similar services to abide by the county's "societal values," in reference to shows featuring members of the LGBTQ community.