The BBC has received a number of complaints over an EastEnders scene in which gay character Syed slams a Koran on a table.

The corporation would not reveal how many complaints it received, but said it did not intend to cause any offence.

The episode, screened this week, showed Syed, played by Marc Elliot, slam the Muslim holy book down in frustration.

Over the past few months, he has been shown struggling to reconcile his faith and his relationship with Christian, played by John Partridge.

In a statement given to Press Association, the BBC said: “As regular viewers will know, Syed has been struggling to come to terms with his sexuality for some time now.

“Desperate not to lose his family, Syed is trying to suppress his homosexuality and has vowed to read and learn from the Koran in an attempt to re-connect with his Muslim faith, hoping that this will help him in his quest.

“Feeling unable to reconcile his feelings for another man with his religious beliefs, Syed slams down the Koran in frustration.

“It was not intended to be a disrespectful act, rather a totally spontaneous one, symbolic of Syed’s utter confusion and frustration at what feels like an impossible situation.

“It wasn’t our intention to cause any offence.”

The BBC was criticised today by gay rights charity Stonewall for failing to portray gay people in realistic and positive lights.

The Stonewall report said that the gay storyline in EastEnders tended to show Syed and Christian as predominantly troubled and unhappy.