Channel 4 cancels screening of Islam film over security fears
Islam: The Untold Story sparks 1,200 complaints and threats to presenter and historian Tom Holland
CITING security fears, Channel 4 has cancelled a special screening of the documentary, Islam: The Untold Story, which questioned the origins of Islam.
The film, which claims there is little written contemporary evidence about the prophet Mohammed, sparked around 1,200 complaints when it was broadcast two weeks ago. Ofcom received 150 complaints alleging inaccuracy, bias and offence to Muslims and said it was considering launching an investigation.
Channel 4 had planned to screen the film again at its headquarters on Thursday before an audience of historians and "opinion formers".
But the channel released a statement yesterday saying: "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 decision was taken before the storming by Muslims of US diplomatic buildings in Cairo and Benghazi yesterday in protest at the appearance on YouTube of an amateurish US-made video which depicted Mohammed as a buffoon and a womaniser.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) has accused the presenter of Islam: The Untold Story, historian Tom Holland, of making "baseless assumptions" and engaging in "selective scholarship". Iranian state media suggested the broadcast was an "insult" to Islam, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Holland has suffered substantial criticism and threats on Twitter, such as: "You might be a target in the streets. You may recruit some bodyguards, for your own safety."
But Holland, who also wrote best-sellers Rubicon and Persian Fire, insists that Islam is "a legitimate subject of historical inquiry".
He has received support from Dr Jenny Taylor, a writer and academic who had been invited to attend Thursday’s screening. Dr Taylor told The Guardian it was "appalling" that the event was being cancelled.
Taylor said media coverage was a factor in whipping up "a false storm of protest" over the programme, which she described as "a good bit of history by one of the most eminent historians in the country.”
She added: "We have got to be able to discuss history. That is the western way. That is what we do here. Every other civilisation that Tim has written about has come in for the same treatment. Why should Islam be left out?"