“Since when are Egyptians not white?” Rupert Murdoch wades into Exodus race debate

News Corp founder defends the decision to cast white leads in new Ridley Scott film set in Egypt

Rupert Murdoch has defended the casting of white actors in a Moses biopic by saying on Twitter that all the Egyptians he knows are white.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings is set in Egypt and stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as pharaoh Rameses. Murdoch – who owns the studio producing the film – sparked anger after writing on the social media site, “Since when are Egyptians not white?”

Murdoch then attempted to clarify his original comment with two more tweets, before asking his followers to “change the subject”.

Murdoch’s comments come after director Ridley Scott said the decision to cast white American and European actors was the only way he could secure financial backing for the film.

He told Variety, “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

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Murdoch’s tweets were met with a deluge of criticism, including from The Simpsons writer Marc Wilmore.