05/17/2006, 00.00
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Ongoing Christian and Muslim protests against "Da Vinci Code"

In Seoul, Delhi and Moscow, there are criticisms and protests against the screening of the film, which "seeks to impute to the Saviour the sins of mankind" and "insults Christ, prophet of Islam".

Rome (AsiaNews) – Protests in Christian and Muslim spheres across Asia against the screening of the "Da Vinci Code" show no signs of abating. The film, based on a book of the same name, is accused of "seeking to justify today's sins by imputing them to Christ himself".

In Seoul, the Christian Council of Korea has announced that new protests will be held against "the book and the film based on it, which put forward hypothesis defaming the holiness of Jesus Christ and offending the religious sensitivities of Christians". Protests are pressing ahead despite the District Court's refusal yesterday, 16 May, of the council's request to ban the film in cinemas in the capital.

"Although the film does not specify that it is a work of fantasy, there is no attack on the religious freedom of individuals. The public cannot think that the thesis is based on historic reality, because both the film and the book are clearly fictional," said the sentence rejecting the request.

Catholic dioceses in the country have also aligned themselves to the protests. They are holding courses about "how to tackle deceit disguised as reality contained in the film."

Protests by Indian Muslims have been more fierce: on 15 May, the Jamiyat-ul-Ulema, an influential organization of Muslim representatives, promised to help Christian groups in the country to "do everything possible to stop the Code" if the authorities do not ban screening of the controversial film.

"The Holy Koran recognises Jesus as a prophet. What the book says is an insult to both Christians and Muslims," said Maluana Mansoor Ali Khan, secretary-general of the organization. "In India, Muslims will help their Christian brothers in protests to defend the religious beliefs we have in common." In the country, several Catholic groups have threatened to take to the streets in protest and also to close cinemas planning to screen the film.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has thrown water on the flames. The archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, vice-president of the Department of External Relations of the Patriarchate, issued an official statement. "All protests against the film will certainly work to increase box-office returns. It is an old idea to try to justify the sins of the world by imputing them to Christ himself."

Referring to the content of the book about a sentimental relationship between Christ and Mary Magdalen, he added: "In a word, if He 'did that' we also can do it… The Code will be soon forgotten. Those who want to come to know real Christ are advised to read the Gospel and then to turn to Him with prayer."

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