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Channel 4 Islam documentary screening cancelled after threats

A screening of a controversial documentary on the history of Islam has been cancelled on security advice after its presenter was threatened.

Historian Tom Holland’s Channel 4 show Islam: The Untold Story sparked more than 1,000 complaints when it was broadcast.

Holland was threatened online with a torrent of abusive messages on Twitter.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: “Having taken security advice, we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme Islam: The Untold Story.

We remain extremely proud of the film which is still available to view on 4oD.”

The investigation into the origins of the religion claimed that there is little written contemporary evidence about the prophet Mohammed.

Holland, the writer of best-sellers Rubicon and Persian Fire, said that Islam is “a legitimate subject of historical inquiry”.

Writing on the Channel 4 website after complaints to both the channel and watchdog Ofcom, he said: “We were of course aware when making the programme that we were touching deeply held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilizational power of Islam was acknowledged in our film, and the perspective of Muslim faith represented, both in the persons of ordinary Bedouin in the desert, and one of the greatest modern scholars of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr.”

Holland was defended by Dr Jenny Taylor who runs the charity Lapido Media which encourages better understanding and reporting of religion in the media.

“He’s shown all of us that Islam is interesting enough to be taken seriously. He’s refused to stick his head in the sand and play blind about the problems or internal tensions that all thinking Muslims know are there,” she said.

“He’s not trammelled the sacred heart of an ancient mystery but found hints of an even greater and more awesome reality that is tantalisingly beyond our grasp at the moment, but could just be the key to a shared past and shared future.”

– AP

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