Tunisia: Denzel Washington casted as Hannibal sparks racist outrage

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It was reported in The National that African American actor Denzel Washington being cast as lead role in the new Netflix film Hannibal  sparked a racist backlash in Tunisia. 

In the Netflix series Hannibal, the main character which the American film star will play, he is the Carthagian general who famously led an army of warriors and elephants across the Alps to battle against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War, a seventeen year long clash taking place from 218 to 201 BC.  

Hannibal was born in the third century BC in Carthage, in the north of what today is Tunis, the North African country’s capital city. 

The move has caused an outrage to erupt mostly amongst traditionalists as Hannibal Barca has long been a widely celebrated figure in Tunisian society. 

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Regarding the character, historian Khadija Ben Mohamed said,“If we had found his tomb we would have been able to take samples to determine how he died, his facial features, his height and everything about him,” 

Critical Tunisians have called the casting a “form of cultural appropriation” and a “distortion of history”.  

Washington, 68, is a highly decorated actor winning prizes such as the Tony Award, two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and two Silver Bears. Notably, he was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022 by Joe Biden. 

The New York Times dubbed him the “best actor in the 21st century.”

Similar backlash circulated particularly amongst a fraction of James Bond enthusiasts and from some in America and the UK more generally when there was lots of speculation that Idris Elba, a London-born black actor, would be the new 007.  

The National


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