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Egyptians demand $2 billion from Netflix for ‘distorting the image’ of Cleopatra in documentary
Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Egyptians demand $2 billion from Netflix for ‘distorting the image’ of Cleopatra in documentary

They want financial compensation after the documentary portrayed the Egyptian leader as Black.

Egyptian jurists are demanding Netflix pay $2 billion in compensation for its Cleopatra documentary.

The streaming service dropped a doco about the legendary Egyptian ruler, however there was swift condemnation when the first trailer was released.

Comments had to be turned off on the YouTube clip as people angrily typed out every expletive under the sun.

But why, you ask?

Because in Queen Cleopatra, Adele James, a Black woman, portrays the ancient leader.

The docuseries – executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith - features historian Shelley Haley declaring: “Cleopatra was Black.”

But, Cleopatra has been recorded to have originated from Macedonian Greek heritage.

Common historical records show that her Macedonian Greek family, the Ptolemaic dynasty, had ruled over the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt for more than three centuries.

"Despite not being ethnically Egyptian, Cleopatra embraced many of her country’s ancient customs and was the first member of the Ptolemaic line to learn the Egyptian language," says.

Many accused Netflix of 'Blackwashing' history by showing Cleopatra as a woman of color.

The Egypt Independent says a team 'consisting of several jurists and archaeologists' is now seeking financial compensation.

They believe the streaming service has 'distorted the Egyptian identity' of Cleopatra.

The Bold Bureau / Alamy Stock Photo

The team has submitted a letter to UNESCO stating they feel they are owed upwards of $2 billion over the issue.

There have been several lawsuits submitted in the wake of the documentary dropping on Netflix.

Lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary filed a case with the Public Prosecutor to see Netflix shut down in his country.

The complaint against Netflix, submitted to Egypt's the Department of Public Prosecution, claims the documentary does not conform to 'Islamic and societal values and principles, especially Egyptian ones'.

"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 legal filing stated.

It also accused the documentary filmmakers and Netflix of being complicit in a 'forgery'.

Former Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass also accused Netflix of 'falsifying facts' by depicting Cleopatra as a Black woman.


"This is completely fake. Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was blonde, not Black," he said, as per the Egypt Independent.

Despite the backlash, director Tina Gharavi said: “So, was Cleopatra Black? We don’t know for sure, but we can be certain she wasn’t white like Elizabeth Taylor.

“We need to have a conversation with ourselves about our colorism, and the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated us with.

“Most of all, we need to realize that Cleopatra’s story is less about her than it is about who we are.

“It’s almost as if we don’t realize that misogynoir still has an effect on us today.

“We need to liberate our imaginations, and boldly create a world in which we can explore our historical figures without fearing the complexity that comes with their depiction.

“I am proud to stand with Queen Cleopatra - a re-imagined Cleopatra - and with the team that made this."

Topics: Netflix