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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 15:28 GMT
MP slates Gibson's Christ movie
Gerald Kaufman
Kaufman said the film caricatured Jews
Labour MP Gerald Kaufman has attacked Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ as "damagingly anti-Semitic".

On ITV1's GMTV Sunday Programme, he slated the film's "gratuitous violence, ugliness, wallowing in blood and, it has to be said, crude anti-Semitism".

But Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, endorsed the film,.

"I don't think from what I hear that it is in any way anti-Semitic," he told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost.

The film, based on the Biblical story of Christ's death, is released in the UK on 26 March.

The film has already been heavily criticised by Jewish groups in the US, who have said it casts Jews in a bad light by making them look responsible for Christ's death.

'Murder'

"The Jews depicted are depicted as almost caricature Jews who demand (Christ's) blood," said Mr Kaufman, the chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee.

"I am not accusing him (Gibson) of being a deliberate and overt anti-Semite but there is no doubt that the message of the film is seriously, damagingly anti-Semitic," he said.

"People who do not know the story will see it as the Jews wanting to murder this saintly man while the Roman ruler of the country didn't want to do it but was forced into by their pressure."

The Passion of the Christ
The film has passed the $200m milestone

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, said he had not yet seen the film but had no criticism of it.

"I have not seen it, the film, but everyone I have met who has seen it has been profoundly moved," he said.

"There were people who said it was anti-Semitic. I don't think from what I hear that it is in any way anti-Semitic. I think they have been very careful not to in any way induce anti-Semitism."

He said he thought the film was "a profound reflection on the passion of Christ".

The film has passed the $200m (110m) mark in the US after only two weeks on release.


SEE ALSO:
Vatican enters Passion debate
12 Mar 04  |  Entertainment


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