MEDIA baron Rupert Murdoch has sparked fury on Twitter after claiming that Egyptian people are white.
Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings has been widely criticised for a lack of ethnic diversity among its leading characters.
Christian Bale plays Moses in the film, which opens on 26 December in the UK, with Joel Edgerton as Rhamses and Sigourney Weaver as Queen Tuya.
But Mr Murdoch, owner of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, tweeted in the early hours yesterday:
Moses film attacked on Twitter for all white cast. Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 29, 2014
Omar X responded: "@rupertmurdoch get out of here with your bull**** statements. For someone who runs the world's media you're a rather ill-informed moron."
Another tweeter, @scifisunsets, responded with "Jesus Rupe, all that money and you know hee-haw about people." Raymond Delauney tweeted: "All... Egyptian dictators you've supported are no doubt 'white'."
Fifteen minutes after his first comment, 83-year-old Murdoch retaliated:
Everybody-attacks last tweet. Of course Egyptians are Middle Eastern, but far from black. They treated blacks as slaves.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 29, 2014
Cindy Chin tweeted back: "Referring to your Egyptian cotton sheets?"
Some secondary characters in the film are played by ethnic minority actors, including Golshifteh Farahani and Indira Varma.
Ridley Scott tried and failed to defend his film from critics by controversially arguing that it would have been impossible to finance had the lead actor been "Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such".
Upcoming Peter Pan remake Pan has also sparked outrage after white US actress Rooney Mara was cast as 'Native American' princess Tiger Lily.
The Hollywood Diversity Report published earlier this year revealed that only 11 per cent of films cast an ethnic minority actor in a lead role, while ethnic minority actors made up just 10 per cent of the cast in the majority of movies.