Egyptian Lawyer Sues Netflix Over ‘Black Cleopatra’

Image: Gijs de Black.

Egyptian lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary Netflix suesbecause in the new Queen Cleopatra series, the legendary Egyptian queen is played by a black actress, Adele James.

Mahmoud al-Semary wants the Egyptian prosecutor to take “serious legal action” against Netflix and block the streaming service in Egypt.

“Most of what the Netflix platform shows contradicts Islamic and societal, especially Egyptian values ​​and principles,” the lawyer said. Cleopatra is portrayed as a black woman in the Netflix series, which al-Semary says promotes “Afrocentrism”.

Afrocentrism is a pseudoscientific theory that asserts that Africa is the source of all civilization, and that the Mesoamerican Olmec civilization and ancient Egypt, among others, were black. This thought is particularly popular among African Americans and is promoted in the Netherlands by Surinamese-Dutch writer Sandew Hira, among others. However, Egyptians see Afrocentrism as an attack on their own history, as the Egyptian pharaohs – with the exception of the Nubian 25th Dynasty – were not black. Angry Egyptians launched a petition, which garnered 85,000 signatures within days.

The Netflix series Queen Cleopatra is written and narrated by Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of actor Will Smith. It focuses on the life of Cleopatra VII (who lived from 69 to 30 BC), the last queen of Egypt, mistress of the Roman writer, general and politician Julius Caesar.

Cleopatra has captured the imagination for centuries. English playwright William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy in the early 17th century Antony and Cleopatra and in 1963 it was made into a feature film starring Elizabeth Taylor. René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo based their comic strip on this Asterix and Cleopatra.

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