Arrow has been really good when it comes to casting people of colour into playing people of colour, but I guess it was too much to ask for a middle eastern actor play Ra’s Al Ghul. We’ve yet to see one play the character on screen at all. The last person to play the lazarus pit using, asskicking, leader of the League of Assassins was Liam Neeson in the Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Liam Neeson is a fantastic actor, but Liam Neeson is very white. Therefore, Liam Neeson was wrong for the role. This time around, Ra’s Al Ghul will be played by Australian actor Matt Nable.

I can’t comment on Matt Nable’s acting skills, like I could with Liam Neeson, but the very fact that he’s white is an automatic NO to his casting. Once again, an instance of whitewashing has occurred. Which breaks my heart. Matt D. Wilson from Comics Alliance wrote a great piece about this casting;

In the comics, Ra’s — whose name is Arabic, meaning “the head of the demon” or “devil” — has always been depicted as distinctly Middle Eastern, with references made to an Arabian homeland and an East Asian ancestry. Like many people from that region and such a background, his skin is commonly olive or dark brown. Like other people from the same region and background, he has also been depicted with pale white skin. Crucially, ever since his debut in 1971, he has been a distinctly non-European, non-western character, and culturally Middle-Eastern.

But in film and TV, Ra’s al Ghul is has pretty much been exclusively depicted as a white westerner.

I was also intrigued by the tweets from Comics Alliance editor, Andy Khouri, who according to Wilson’s piece is himself an Arab-American who grew up in the Middle East and Southeast Asia”. 

I completely agree with Khouri’s observations as to why Arrow’s writers may be trigger shy in regards to casting a middle eastern to play Al Ghul. However, as Khouri pointed out, what does that leave middle easterners in terms of representations? Lack of suitable middle eastern actors to play the role is ridiculous — if you can find middle easterners/arabs to play terrorists then you can someone to play a complex character like Ra’s Al Ghul. Need an example? Faran Tahir is a great start.