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Responses to Islam: the untold story

Although I have not seen Islam: the untold story , I have read the book on which it is based.   So it has been interesting to follow responses to the programme.  Here’s a particularly unwelcome example:

“The Ramadhan Foundation calls on Channel 4 to apologise for this programme, withdraw it from online viewing and also order an immediate inquiry into why this was allowed to be broadcast.”

But it’s important to distinguish between this ridiculous demand, and reactions which are merely irritated or offended but which do not call for a ban or censorship.  I have read a reference to all these complainers being ‘Islamists’ – but this seems an unhelpful use of the term. Tom Holland has every right to make his programme, examining Islam from an academic perspective – and Muslims have every right to say he’s got it all wrong.  I was reminded of the discussion following my post on The Death of Klinghoffer – although many found the opera offensive I don’t think anyone said it should be banned.

Some Muslims have expressed unease at the way Tom Holland has now, apparently, been adopted as a ‘poster boy’ by the EDL.  If the programme is anything like the book this says more about the (lack of) intelligence of those supporters than it does about Tom Holland.  Far right types are pouncing delightedly on the abuse Holland has been getting – and yes, it’s been awful – but their own supporters routinely post foul and threatening comments about Muslims on the internet.

I have some sympathy with Muslims who, perhaps just going on internet chit chat, genuinely fear this programme may act as a vector for anti-Muslim bigotry – even though I think their fears are misplaced.   I have also read plenty of responses from Muslims who seem to have reasoned academic/historical objections to the programme. Although it’s possible that their beliefs are sending them along particular lines of argument, ones in line with a more conventional view of Islam’s roots than that put forward by Holland, they are still turning to rational argument, not abuse or completely unsupported assertions, to back up their own point of view.

I hope Tom Holland is able to ignore the haters on both sides.

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