An Egyptian lawyer has filed a case with the Public Prosecutor to have the US streaming platform Netflix shut down in Egypt following the trailer for the Queen Cleopatra mini-series was released, depicting the Macedonian Greek historical figure as a black woman.
According to Egypt Independent, lawyer Mahmoud Al-Semary has called for serious legal action to be taken, placing blame on those responsible for the four-part docudrama and the Netflix management for its participation in “this crime”.
The complaint submitted against the streaming giant stated: “Most of what Netflix platform displays do not conform to Islamic and societal values and principles, especially Egyptian ones.”
It added that the trailer, which attracted millions of viewers worldwide, is a distortion of Egyptian history and that the series promotes Afrocentrism, which skews the identity of Egyptians.
“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,” the statement read.
Queen Cleopatra which is part of Netflix’s “African Queens” series, stars Adele James and is co-produced by US actress and talk show host Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of actor Will Smith.
According to the Netflix website: “Though Cleopatra’s life has been the subject of much debate and lore, the new series hopes to reassess this part of her fascinating story — including her love life — in a brand new way, and also highlight one of Cleopatra’s strongest weapons: her intellect.”
Pinkett was quoted as saying she “really wanted to represent Black women,” adding that, “We don’t often get to see or hear stories about Black queens.”
Egyptologist, Dr Sally-Ann Ashton, who is interviewed in the series as an expert, was also quoted as saying: “Cleopatra ruled in Egypt long before the Arab settlement in North Africa. If the maternal side of her family were indigenous women, they would’ve been African, and this should be reflected in contemporary representations of Cleopatra.”
However, prominent Egyptian archaeologist and former antiquities minister, Dr Zahi Hawass, has criticised the upcoming series, accusing it of “falsifying facts”.
“This is completely fake. Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was blonde, not black.”
“Netflix is trying to stir up confusion to spread false information that the origin of Egyptian civilisation is black,” Hawass added, referring to Afrocentrism.
The controversy surrounding the Netflix series comes after US comedian Kevin Hart’s planned show in Egypt was cancelled in February amid public outcry online and calls for his show to be axed over his past Afrocentric views on ancient Egyptian history.