A government-owned Egyptian broadcaster has responded to a casting call for a black actress to play cleopatra in it Netflix The docudrama series “African Queens”, which will air from May 10, as it announces the production of its own big-budget documentary on Cleopatra.

The fact that British Adele James, of mixed ancestry, is playing the first century Egyptian ruler as a queen with African roots in the Netflix original produced by Jada Pinkett Smith has caused quite a stir in Egypt. Since the trailer was released last month, local scholars and others have claimed that Cleopatra, who was born in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in 69 B.C. C. and belonged to a Greek-speaking dynasty, was of European descent and not black.

In response to what they claim is Netflix’s falsification of Egypt’s history, the Al Wathaeqya channel, which is a subsidiary of Egypt’s state-affiliated United Media Services, announced the start of production on a high-profile documentary. range about the true story of Queen Cleopatra. which it claims in a statement is based on the «highest levels» of research and accuracy.

Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the government entity in charge of heritage, has complained on Twitter that «statues of Queen Cleopatra confirm that she had Hellenistic (Greek) features, distinguished by fair skin, an elongated nose and thin lips.

Popular comedian Bassem Youssef, in a recent television interview with British journalist Piers Morgan, accused Netflix of trying to «grab our Egyptian culture.» And an Egyptian lawyer filed a lawsuit demanding that legal steps be taken to block Netflix entirely in Egypt, to prevent the show from airing, though that hasn’t happened, at least not yet.

«Why do some people need Cleopatra to be white?» the program director, Tina Gharavi wrote in an opinion piece defending the casting on Variety online last month. «Maybe it’s not just that I’ve directed a series that portrays Cleopatra as black, but that I’ve asked the Egyptians to see themselves as African, and they’re furious with me for it.»

Netflix has repeatedly declined to comment.