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Channel 4 cancels controversial screening of Islam: The Untold Story documentary after presenter Tom Holland is threatened

Islam: The Untold Story received over 1,000 complaints when it was first broadcast at the end of August, with presenter Tom Holland receiving numerous furious messages on Twitter.

John Hall
Wednesday 12 September 2012 10:46 BST
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Islam: The Untold Story
Islam: The Untold Story

Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of a controversial documentary on the history of Islam after its presenter was threatened.

Islam: The Untold Story received around 1,200 complaints when it was first broadcast at the end of August, with presenter Tom Holland receiving numerous furious 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.”

Islam: The Untold Story investigated the origins of the religion, claiming there was little written evidence about the Prophet Mohammed and questioning the authenticity of many of the stories in the Koran.

It examined claims that rather than Islam's doctrine emerging fully-formed in a single text, the religion instead developed gradually over many years with the expansion of Arabic empires.

Despite Channel 4’s statement, those attempting to watch the documentary on 4OD were met with an error message.

Tom Holland, a historian who wrote the best sellers Rubicon and Persian Fire defended the documentary, saying Islam is “a legitimate subject of historical inquiry”.

The was much criticism however, with Iranian State media calling it an insult to Islam and the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) accusing Holland making “baseless assumptions” and engaging in “selective scholarship”.

Holland himself received countless angry message on Twitter, with some of them personally threatening.

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One message sent to him read: “You might be a target in the streets. You may recruit some bodyguards, for your own safety.”

Channel 4 subsequently sought security advice and a decision to pull a repeat screening of the documentary this Thursday was taken.

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