ISLAM today is at the same point of violent turmoil as
Christianity was during Henry VIII's Reformation, the director of
the BBC's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's best-selling novel of those
times, Wolf Hall, says.
The Booker Prize-winning story charts the rise of Thomas
Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister, as the King pursued an
annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
Peter Kosminsky, the director of the BBC2 dramatisation, which
started on Wednesday, was asked by the Newsnight presenter
Emily Maitlis if he thought that religious idealism, as displayed
by Henry's friend Sir Thomas More, was not coming from Christian
leaders today, but from radical Islam.
Mr Kosminsky agreed that the concept was "very much" in his mind
when he was working on the programme. He said: "It struck me that
Islam is about 500 years younger than Christianity as a religion,
which means that this drama, set about 500 years ago, looks at a
time when Christianity was about the same age as a religion as
Islam is today.
"So we look at some of the extraordinarily extreme things that
radical Islam, jihadists, are doing - cutting people's heads off,
massacring Shias - over points of what might appear to outsiders
[to be] fairly arcane differences of religious dogma. But look back
500 years to what Christianity was doing in that time: cutting
people's heads off and putting them on pikes . . . burning people
alive . . . and often over disagreements: for example, whether the
Bible should be available in the vernacular."