A social media storm erupted after the announcement that Israeli actress Gal Gadot will portray the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra in a blockbuster film. Critics complained that Gadot is neither Egyptian nor Arab, while others are pointing out Cleopatra wasn’t actually Arab.
Pakistani journalist Sameera Khan blasted the casting in a tweet that stirred widespread discussion on the platform.
“Which Hollywood dumbass thought it would be a good idea to cast an Israeli actress as Cleopatra (a very bland looking one) instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim? And shame on you, Gal Gadot. Your country steals Arab land & you’re stealing their movie roles… smh,” Kahn wrote.
Njeim is a Lebanese and Tunisian actress.
Israeli journalist Sarah Tuttle-Singer responded that it’s bad “when a woman in power belittles another woman for her ‘bland’ looks. Also, Cleopatra was neither Arab nor African nor Israeli. She was Macedonian Greek.”
Cleopatra was the last monarch of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, which ruled from 305 BCE to 30 BCE. She is a descendant of Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general.
Other Twitter users accused Gadot of supporting “genocide” for her Israeli heritage or called for the role to go to a Black actress, because Egypt is part of Africa.
The Cleopatra film will be directed by Patty Jenkins, who has also helmed the Gadot “Wonder Woman” films, the second of which is set to hit theaters this winter.
In her announcement of the film, Gadot said the Cleopatra movie would tell the queen’s story “for the first time through women’s eyes, both behind and in front of the camera.”