Da Vinci Code Unites Christians & Muslims in India Protests

Christian groups in India have found solace in their Islamic counterparts in protests against the release of The Da Vinci Code movie across the country. An influential organisation of Indian Muslim clerics have vowed to help Christian groups launch protests if the country’s authorities did not ban the screening of the controversial film, Monday 15th May 2006.

|PIC1|Up till now, protests against the film have been on a relatively low scale, but in recent weeks several Catholic groups have said that they will organise street protests, and even go as far as forcing cinema halls showing the movie to shut down.

This week, a new twist in the controversy surrounding the adaptation of Dan Brown’s divisive novel was seen when Islamic clerics joined Christians and said that Brown’s novel was blasphemous as it spread lies about Jesus.

Maulana Mansoor Ali Khan, General Secretary of the All-India Sunni Jamiyat-ul-Ulema, an umbrella organisation of clerics, reported to Reuters, “The Holy Koran recognises Jesus as a prophet. What the book says is an insult to both Christians and Muslims.

“Muslims in India will help their Christian brothers protest this attack on our common religious belief,” he said.

|TOP|Many controversial issues have been stirred up by The Da Vinci Code, with one of the most prominent suggesting that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and had a child with her.

The Vatican has already spoken out against the book, as well as the film, and has asked Christians worldwide to boycott the movie.

With the movie due to be on worldwide release at the end of this week, a number of India’s Christian and Muslim leaders met with police and politicians in Mumbai on Saturday. In discussions they urged for screenings of the film to be banned.

A number of Christian groups in India have already announced their intention to protest against the film.

|AD|Dolphy D'Souza, spokesman of Bombay Catholic Sabha, which has 40,000 registered members said, “We will picket in front of cinema halls that show the film. We are very hurt and very angry.”

Stirring up more debate, The Da Vinci Code has been translated in Malayalam, the language spoken by the people of Kerala, India.

The depiction of Jesus in fiction has been a constant irritant for the church in Kerala, but this time the Catholic Church, unlike on earlier occasions, has said it is not likely to demand a ban on the book.

“The book has been in circulation around the world. The Church will only reiterate that it is a mere work of fiction,” affirmed Fr. Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI).

In India, Christians form just one percent of the 1.3-billion population, with Muslims making up 13 percent, but the large majority being Hindu.