Algerian Actress Accused of Looking ‘Too White’ for Role in Tom Cruise ‘Mummy’ Movie

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 6:11 pm, April 13, 2017
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No new movie comes without a toxic dose of controversy to go alongside its hype. The new Tom Cruise-driven reboot of The Mummy is under fire with accusations of whitewashing over the casting of the actress who plays evil Ahmanet.

Sofia Boutella

In the movie, Ahmanet is awoken from a 2,000-year long slumber to wreak havoc upon the world. Sealed alive and now resurrected by the reopening of her tomb, the Egyptian princess brings with her a millennia-long grudge against humanity.

But instead of enjoying the ride, outraged social justice warriors took to social media to complain about the actress who plays the role in their erroneous belief that she is white.

“Hey look white people playing Egyptians again… smh” wrote one complaint—mirroring dozens of others.

In reality, Sofia Boutella is an Algerian-born actress, who plays the role of the Egyptian goddess Ahmanet. Algeria and Egypt are both North African countries—and the majority of their populations have the same racial makeup.

Other critics called the casting choice “Arab washing,” insisting that the ancient Egyptians were black.

“I’m just tired of seeing AFRICAN leaders being shown as white,” wrote a complaint by King2 Amani on Facebook. “How about we make a movie where George Washington is a Black person and tell me how white people react [sic].”

“I’m not watching this white/arab wash bullshit,” wrote Shandon Sims.

“The ancient Egyptians were black people, not Arabs,” chimed in another.

Some complained that she “looks like she came from Russia” due to her fair-skinned appearance in one of her photographs.

Comments about Boutella’s appearance were equally rancid on Twitter, where critics complained about how they felt it was wrong to cast a “white woman” in the role of an Egyptian princess.

Bust of Nefertiti

As exhibited by the famously well-preserved Bust of Nefertiti, many ancient Egyptians queens and princesses very much resembled Sofia Boutella. Historians and anthropologists have argued for years over how to racially categorize the ancient Egyptians– and to sum up all the arguing, it’s very hard to say whether, over a millennia, Ancient Egyptians were really white, black or other — and back then, it didn’t really matter. As one scholar put it:  “Egyptians, Greeks and Romans attached no special stigma to the color of the skin and developed no hierarchical notions of race whereby highest and lowest positions in the social pyramid were based on color.”

Quite unlike the social justice warriors of today, isn’t it?

And as for Prince Ahmanet, the Alex Kurtzman-directed film could not have cast a better actress for the role.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.