British channel’s history of Islam sparks flood of complaints


A British public-service television broadcaster, Channel 4, is at the centre of a storm over a programme it broadcast on the history of Islam. According to a report published in the Daily Mail, Islam: The Untold Story has triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself. It has also sparked a bitter war of words on Twitter involving leading historians and Islamic scholars. Since it was screened last week, presenter Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, has been subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets, some of which have included physical threats. According to the paper, he is accused of distorting the history of Islam by claiming the holy Quran “makes little or no reference to the religious city of” Makkah. One Twitter user accused Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam was a “made-up religion”. The Islamic Education and Research Academy published a lengthy paper denouncing the programme. But historians have rallied to Holland’s defense. Dan Snow, who has presented history shows for the BBC with his father Peter, described the programme as “a triumph”, tweeting: “Dear angry, mad people – it is conceivable that you know more than the world’s leading scholars, but very unlikely.” The paper quoted the academy as claiming that the programme’s assertion that there were no historical records detailing the life and teachings of the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was flawed. “Holland appears to have turned a blind eye to rich Islamic historical tradition,” said the academy. Ofcom, which has received 150 complaints about the programme’s alleged bias, inaccuracy and offence caused to Muslims, is considering an investigation. Holland was quoted as saying, ‘The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical inquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programmes on Channel 4.” “We were of course aware that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilisational power of Islam was acknowledged.


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