May 16, 2006

India to show “Da Vinci” to Catholics before release

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Indian government decided on
Tuesday to show the controversial film, "The Da Vinci Code," to
Catholic groups before taking a decision on clearing it for a
scheduled release later this week, a spokesman said.

There have been sporadic protests by some Christian and
Muslim groups against the film, based on a bestselling novel
which claims Jesus married his female disciple Mary Magdalene
and had a child with her.

"The (information) minister has said the film would be
shown to Catholic groups and a final decision taken only after
that," a spokesman of the ministry of information and
broadcasting told Reuters.

The movie is scheduled for worldwide release on Friday.

Christians form about one percent of Hindu-majority India's
billion plus population, while Muslims make up around 13

Earlier in the day, about two dozen activists of a
little-known Christian group held a protest in India's western
commercial hub of Mumbai and their leader announced he was
going on a fast unto death.

"If the film is screened, it will be a sad day for secular
India," Joseph Dias, secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum,
told Reuters. "We will protest until the movie is banned."

(Additional reporting by Sanjay Rajan in MUMBAI)