Russell Brand has cancelled his Middle East gigs.

The 38-year-old comedian was set to kick off the Middle East leg of his Messiah Complex world tour in Abu Dhabi and Lebanon in August, but has pulled out after promoters couldn't guarantee his safety.

Speaking live on Radio 5, Russell said: ''Those gigs have been banned, pulled because of threats from extremists that if I went there, there would be problems. The venue contacted us and said we can no longer guarantee your safety.''

Russell believes the nature of his comedy material led to ''fundamentalists'' threatening to bombard the venues, and also thinks his promotional poster for the tour - which features a god-like picture of him - might have played the role in his cancellations.

He explained: ''The image by the brilliant artist Shepard Fairey depicts me as looking a little Christ-like... so there's an indication that it might be offensive.

''I suppose there's an indication that it might be offensive. Probably if you are in some sort of fundamentalist group in Abu Dhabi and then Google my name and watch a few things on YouTube you might just think, 'don't bother having him here'.''

The tour will now skip the Middle East but will continue on to US, Canada, South Africa and European venues.