Stop Whitewashing Hollywood: Cast a Middle Eastern Actor as Rumi!

Hollywood whitewashing strikes again: A new biopic about the 13th century Persian poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, may star Leonardo DiCaprio.

Screenwriters David Franzoni and Stephen Joel Brown told The Guardian that they want to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Rumi in their upcoming film---a casting choice that is both ludicrous and offensive. Muslim actors are readily typecasted as terrorists, but when a movie portrays a Muslim in a positive light, they are shunted off to the side to make room for another white actor. Franzoni and Brown need to cast a Middle Eastern actor as Rumi to truly challenge the Hollywood stereotypes. Sign to tell the screenwriters that #RumiWasntWhite.

Rumi’s poetry is popular both within and beyond the Muslim world. His epics, Masnavi and the Divan, are considered among the best poetry ever written, and in 2014 Rumi was the best-selling poet in the United States. Casting Leonardo DiCaprio as Rumi rewrites history, takes possession of Muslim accomplishments, and gives the credit to a white man. Now, when people think of Rumi, they’ll picture him with pale skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. Sign this petition to stop whitewashing history!

Whitewashing is not anything new. Jake Gyllenhaal was cast as the title role in Prince of Persia, and Emma Stone was cast as an Asian pilot in Aloha. The makers of the Last Airbender chose three white kids to play the Asian heroes, and ethnic actors to play the villains. How are those choices are acceptable? There aren't always roles for nonwhite actors in Hollywood movies, but when there are roles, they are given to white actors. 

The casting for the Rumi movie is not yet final, and together we can change it. Sign this petition to let David Franzoni and Stephen Joel Brown know that we want a Middle Eastern actor to play the Persian poet!

Sign, Share, and Tweet #RumiWasntWhite

Update #12 years ago
The Hollywood Reporter says that Leonardo DiCaprio will not be playing Rumi. The Persian poet has not yet been cast as a Middle Eastern Actor. Thank you for supporting this effort to stop whitewashing in Hollywood.

Keep sharing to let Franzoni and Brown know we want a Middle Eastern actor to play Rumi!

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