7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Ban film call by Catholics

CATHOLIC leaders in Bahrain are calling for the controversial movie The Da Vinci Code to be banned from the country's cinema screens.

The movie is scheduled to be released at the end of the month, but religious groups argue it should not be screened as it will cause offence and create misunderstandings about Christianity.

There are estimated to be more than 140,000 Catholics from countries around the world living in Bahrain.

Parish priest of the Sacred Heart Church in Manama, Thomas Quadros, argued the film has been created merely to create profit from the controversy.

"It is an open fact that we are deeply against this fiction that hurts us," he told the GDN.

"This is done for commercial purposes and it should not be allowed to create misunderstanding, tension and ill will in society.

"These things should not be made into any kind of public spectacle.

"It is done for malicious and commercial purposes.

"It should be stopped and proper action should be taken against those who are promoting this kind of cause, which has very much hurt and offended many."

He rejected the suggestion that banning the film would affect freedom of expression.

"There is a limit for that when it hurts others," he said.

"Freedom cannot go on when it hurts somebody's feelings."

A decision has yet to be taken on whether or not the film will be screened in Bahrain, although it is scheduled for release at Dana Mall next Wednesday.

The movie premiered at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival in France last week.

It is based on the best-selling Dan Brown novel, which has been translated into 44 languages and sold over 60 million copies worldwide.

The film centres on a conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the so-called "true" story of Jesus.

Fans hailed the book as thought-provoking, but critics attacked its accuracy and argue it is sacrilegious - giving a negative image of the Catholic Church.

Kerala Catholic Association (KCA) president Sevi Mathunny was also against the film being screened in Bahrain.

"I have my reservations because I have not seen the film or paid much attention to the book, but from what I read in the media it is hurting people," he said.

"And my personal opinion is if it is hurting anybody's feelings it is better to avoid it.

"Why would you want to show it? It will affect the feelings of Christianity."

Bahrain Cinema Club president Nader Al Muskati said it was a controversial issue that must be resolved to suit all sides.

"Generally speaking we would like the public to have the opportunity to see the movie, but we do appreciate that within certain sectors the film may really hurt them and we also have to respect their rights," he said.

"In areas to do with religion and the values of people I don't feel it is right to harass them on that.

"In today's world we can resort to other media such as DVDs to show certain films, then it will be available to those people who would like to see it.

"I have not seen the movie so I cannot judge, but it should be reviewed in that context."

However, former journalist, author and documentary filmmaker Ali Al Saeed said people have a right to watch the movie.

"Personally I think the whole Da Vinci Code phenomenon is being blown out of all proportion," he told the GDN.

"People are reacting to certain parts of it, but they have to remember it is a work of fiction.

"It is more of a story than a more serious or historical work of value.

"The books are widely available here so to go and make such a fuss about the film does not make any sense to me. People should be allowed to see it."

Meanwhile, Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) assistant general secretary Dr Abdulla Aldeerazi has not seen the film, but does not believe people of other faiths should be restricted.

"I believe with all respect to the opinion of the church there were worse films than this shown before and they did not call for a ban then," he said.

"From a human rights perspective it should not be banned because this is freedom of expression and I do not think it affects other people's freedom.

"There are millions around the world who are not Catholic and who want to see the film. I do not think it should be banned because of a religious perspective."

Information Ministry director of publishing and Press Jamal Dawood Salman said no decision would be taken about the film until the government had received a copy from the distributor. It is expected to be delivered within a week.

Another controversial religious film, The Passion of Christ, was banned in Bahrain last year on the grounds that it was against Islam because it depicted a prophet (Jesus).

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