Protests Mount on Eve of "Da Vinci" Premiere
A Catholic leader in India seems to think so. Joseph Dias, head of the Catholic Secular Forum, started a hunger strike in downtown Bombay Tuesday and is encouraging his fellow Indian Roman Catholics to join him until the film adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel is banned in their country.
And that's just one of a wide array of protests taking shape as the Wednesday world premiere of The Da Vinci Code at the 59th Cannes Film Festival approaches.
Dias may be home in time for dinner. India's Information and Broadcasting Minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, announced today that he has put The Da Vinci Code's premiere in his country on hold for the time being after receiving more than 200 complaints.
"We are a secular country," Dasmunshi told reporters. "On any sensitive issue, we should take action after we examine every aspect. We have to be careful." He said that the movie, scheduled to open Friday, would probably just be delayed by a day or two.
There are about 18 million Roman Catholics in India, including 500,000 in Bombay, and most of the rest of the country's 1 billion-strong population is either Hindu or Muslim.
Reverend Myron Pereira, a member of India's Central Board of Film Certification panel, told the Associated Press that there was no reason to ban The Da Vinci Code, saying that the film is a work of fiction and "does not portray anything in an obscene fashion."
"People can protest anything since we live in a democracy," he said.
For months various religious groups all over the world have spoken out against Ron Howard's film, condemning its premise that suggests Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene before he died. And now that the movie is more than a gleam in Hollywood's eye, the angry and scandalized are coming out of the woodwork.
Earlier today a South Korean court shot down a Christian group's request to block screenings of the film.
"As it is clear that the novel and movie are all fiction… there is no probability that the movie can make viewers mistakenly believe the contents of the movie are facts," Judge Song Jin-hyun stated in his ruling. South Korea is home to about 13 million Protestants and 4.6 million Roman Catholics.
Judge Jin-hyun gets it. But try telling that to the 200 members of the Greek Orthodox Church who peacefully marched to parliament Tuesday in Athens.
"All religions merit respect, so why don't they show respect in this case instead of attacking all that we hold sacred?" Athanasios Papageorgiou, president of a St. John the Theologian group in Peania, Greece, told reporters.
Christian groups in Thailand made a very old-fashioned move Tuesday in actually demanding censorship from their government. Organizations such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand asked that The Da Vinci Code's final 15 minutes be cut and that subtitles "disrespecting Jesus" be altered. The groups also took a cue from the Catholic sect Opus Dei and asked that a disclaimer about the film's untruthfulness be tacked on before and after the film.