Egyptian Lawyer files case against Netflix for series depicting Cleopatra as black woman

An Egyptian lawyer has reportedly filed a lawsuit against a Netflix production called Queen Cleopatra in which the historical figure is depicted as a black woman played by actress Adele James . 

 Mahmoud al-Semary filed a case against the entertainment giant demanding that serious legal action be taken against the producers of the documentary which is  led by Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of Will Smith. 



Netflix published the trailer for the four part documentary series scheduled to air on the 10th of May six days ago with the comment function currently disabled. 

The Netflix description says that, “Cleopatra’s heritage has been the subject of much academic debate, which has often been ignored by Hollywood,” although academics seem to be settled on her heritage being Greek as a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. 

al-Semary says that the depiction of the historical figure who historians believe to have been of Greek extraction as a black woman ‘contradicts Egyptian history’ describing it as a “crime”. 

The complaint submitted to the Public Prosecutions office reportedly states that, “In order to preserve the Egyptian national and cultural identity among Egyptians all over the world there must be pride in the makings of such work.”

Former Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass described the film as “falsifying facts” 

Commenting on Cleopatra being portrayed as a black person he said “This is completely fake”.

Hawass, who in previous years featured heavily in documentaries about ancient Egypt, said that the Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra as a woman with Greek lineage would have been  “light skinned, not black.”

Speaking to the Egyptian Independent he said that in recent years a trend, which he described as ‘completely false’,  had emerged of depicting ancient Egyptians as sub-Saharan Africans which he reportedly said was led by African Americans and black South Americans. 

“Netflix is trying to stir up confusion to spread false information that the origin of Egyptian civilization is black,” he said. 

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