Religious Controversy as Final Harry Potter Launches

The latest Harry Potter book launched worldwide, sparking religious controversy in Israel.

Religious controversy has been sparked in Israel as the latest Harry Potter book launched worldwide.

Religious politicians are accusing the bookstores - which will be opening on the holy Sabbath day - of putting profits ahead of religious sensitivities for agreeing to open their shops to sell the final instalment to eager fans.

Harry Potter fans poured into book stores around the world on Saturday to get hold of the seventh and final volume in the series and discover the secret of the boy wizard's fate.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" hit the shelves across most of the world at 23:01 GMT on Friday, in a release carefully orchestrated to maximise suspense and sales from Tokyo and New York to Taiwan and Australia's Outback.

Dressed as witches, Hogwarts heroes, Death Eaters and plain old non-magical Muggles, die-hard followers from dozens of countries braved torrential rain in London and awoke at dawn in Australia and India to snap up early copies.

The book was released in the United States at midnight. In New York, two teenage boys disguised as wizards ran around with brooms between their legs, pretending to battle each other in a game of quidditch, much to the delight of fans lined up outside Barnes & Noble's Union Square store.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old social worker Julia Schafer stood at the back of a line that began in the store and stretched around the block, anxiously waiting to find out her hero's fate.

"I would really hope that Voldemort dies. The evil has to end," said Schafer, adding she's sad to see the saga come to an end.

Others prepared for a long, sleepless night.

"I'm undoubtedly going to read the book before going to bed today," said Robin Holland at a shop in west London.

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