Tunisians take issue with Denzel Washington playing historic general in new film

Denzel Washington being cast in Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming Netflix movie as ancient Carthaginian general Hannibal is sparking some controversy in Tunisia, the home country of the great military commander.

According to French newspaper Courrier International, there are complaints about depicting the Carthaginian general as a Black African being made in the media and the Tunisian parliament. Member of Parliament Yassine Mami has pointed out that Hannibal, who was born in 247 BC in Carthage — now known as Tunis, the Tunisian capital — was of West Asian Semitic origin. “There is a risk of falsifying history: we need to take position on this subject,” the Tunisian politician reportedly stated.

Concurrently, French-language Tunisian newspaper La Presse has published an editorial in which it similarly objects that depicting Hannibal as a Black African is “according to Tunisians and many observers, a historical error.”

However, Tunisian culture minister Hayet Ketat-Guermazi had a different, more pragmatic take on the matter.