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 film 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 private screening was due to take place at the broadcaster’s London headquarters on Thursday before an audience of historians and “opinion formers”.
The documentary is due to be repeated late on Thursday night and can be viewed online. 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.
Holland, the writer of best-sellers Rubicon and Persian Fire, said that Islam is “a legitimate subject of historical inquiry”.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) accused him of making “baseless assumptions” and engaging in “selective scholarship”. Iranian state media suggested the broadcast was an “insult” to Islam.
One message sent to Holland read: “You might be a target in the streets. You may recruit some bodyguards, for your own safety.”