Thursday, July 7, 2011

Iran threatens 'serious action' over BBC plans to screen documentary series on Muhammad

Three-part series The Life of Muhammad has already been blasted by officials in Iran, who claim the country will take 'serious action' if it is screened.

The Iranian minister of cultural and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, who has yet to watch any of the series, has branded the film an attempt by the 'enemy' to 'ruin Muslims' sanctity'.

'The BBC's decision to make a documentary on the life of [the] prophet Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action,' he told Iran's Fars news agency.

The documentary, to be broadcast in mid-July, just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in August, will see journalist and TV presenter Rageh Omaar travel to the place of Muhammad's birth, Mecca, to re-trace the footsteps of the prophet.

However, the series will feature no visual images of Muhammad in a bid not to offend Muslims, whose religion forbids depiction of the prophet.

Instead, a spoken description of Muhammad will be given, making this the first biographical documentary not to feature visual images of the subject.

The documentary-makers claims the film will raise questions about Islam's role in the world today and explore 'where Islam's attitudes towards money, charity, women, social equality, religious tolerance, war and conflict originate'.

Mr Omaar, the Middle Eastern correspondent for Al Jazeera English, said: 'I am extremely pleased to be presenting this exciting and groundbreaking series.

'The details of Muhammad's life really are little known, and I hope that my series will – for many – shine a light on the very beginning of Islam, taking viewers to the heart of this faith, illustrating just how Muhammad's life and legacy is as important today as it was a over a thousand years ago.'

The show was commissioned by the BBC's first Muslim head of Religion & Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed.

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