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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 11:23 GMT
'Satanic' Harry Potter books burnt
Ouija boards were burnt alongside Harry Potter books
Ouija boards were burnt alongside Harry Potter books
A bonfire of Harry Potter books have been burnt on a bonfire in New Mexico, by people accusing the fictional boy wizard of being the devil.

JK Rowling's novels were burnt alongside other items considered to be the work of the devil, including horror books by Stephen King, ouija boards and AC/DC records.

Eminem CDs and copies of Disney's Snow White film were thrown in a dustbin.

Protesters denounced the burning as
Protesters denounced the burning as "ignorant"
The congregation of the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo in southern New Mexico heard an anti-Harry Potter sermon in which Pastor Jack Brock claimed the character taught children to take up wizardry.

"Behind that innocent face is the power of satanic darkness," he said. "Harry Potter is the devil and he is destroying people."

The theme of the books - in which Potter attends a wizard's school and battles beasts and other wizards - has been attacked by some for attracting children to dark magic.

But most of the millions of fans of the books - the first of which has been turned into a hit film - have shrugged aside those arguments and embraced the stories as harmless, fantastical entertainment.

The anti-Potter sermon was followed by the night-time book burning, which Pastor Brock said was part of a drive for Christians to get rid of items that prevent them from communicating with God.

Millions of children around the world have read the books
Millions of children around the world have read the books
Pastor Brock said he had never read any of the four Potter novels - but had researched their contents.

Several hundred people formed a counter-demonstration across the street to protest at the burning.

"Burning books leads to ignorance and that's why I'm standing out here," said Vicky O'Reilly, a resident of Alamogordo. "My son loves Harry Potter."

Some waved signs - including one reading "Hitler - Bin Laden - Pastor Brock - what great company".

Others wore pointed black witch hats and one carried a broom in support of the Potter books.

The first story has been turned into a hit film
The first story has been turned into a hit film
JK Rowling has previously dismissed those who think her books turn children onto witchcraft.

"I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, 'Ms Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because now I want to be a witch,'" she said in an earlier statement.

A number of schools and toy shops have already banned Harry Potter books and merchandise because they fear they will lead children to the occult, while a town in Somerset has raised a petition against the film.


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05 Nov 01 | Education
24 Sep 01 | Film
29 Mar 00 | Education
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