05/13/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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First victory for Catholics protesting against films "offensive to Christianity"

"Tickle my funny bone" will be censored and released late. Card. Varkey Vithayathil about "The Da Vinci Code": that such a film should be screened is depolorable.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/CBCI) – Indian Catholics protesting against two films, "The Da Vinci Code" and "Tickle my funny bone", have scored their first victory. The films are held to be "offensive to the community's religious sentiments. Meanwhile, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil today joined his voice to the chorus of condemnation.

Yesterday, the KBC, distributors of the second film, tendered an apology and said it will not use posters showing censored portions of the film. The Central Board of Film Certification has postponed release of the film, which was scheduled to take place yesterday, and censured parts of the film.

"Tickle My Funny Bone", directed by Yogendra Konkar, is about a Catholic nun – depicted as a seducer – who has an affair with a married man. Vinayak Azad, head of the Central Board of Film Certification for Maharashtra state, assured Christian representatives that no vulgar scenes will be kept in the film and no symbols of the Christian Church, like churches, rosaries and crosses will be screened.

Before the cinema release of the censored film, a premier of "Tickle my funny bone" will be screened for Christians, so they may ascertain that the film does not include any offensive images.

Catholic protests have been under way for days. With backing from bishops, on 10 May, a group composed of around 500 Catholics protested in the school of the Canossian Sisters of Mahim, in Mumbai: around 100 sisters took part in the protest that called for "respect for the image of Christ and Indian Sisters".

Meanwhile, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, of the Syro-Malabar Church, today issued a firm condemnation against the "The Da Vinci Code". In an official statement, the cardinal described the novel on which the film version is based, as "purely an imaginative work that distorts history and sacrilegiously maligns the adorable person of Jesus Christ and His message." The Cardinal said "India's secularism positively respects all religions… it is highly deplorable that a film of this kind is allowed to be screened, disregarding the religious sentiments of millions of citizens."

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