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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Da Vinci Code banned in Lebanon
Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code is written by former teacher Dan Brown
Best-selling book The Da Vinci Code has been banned in Lebanon after complaints it was offensive to Christianity.

Catholic leaders called for the book to be withdrawn because of its depiction of Christ marrying Mary Magdalene and fathering a child.

Shop owners said security officials had told them to pull French, English and Arabic copies off their shelves.

In the fictional book by Dan Brown, an academic uncovers riddles hidden in the religious works by the famous painter.

Sexual relationship

Father Abdou Abu Kasm, president of Lebanon's Catholic Information Centre, said the contents of the book were "insulting".

"There are paragraphs that touch the very roots of the Christian religion... they say Jesus Christ had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene, that they had children," he said.

"Those things are difficult for us to accept, even if it's supposed to be fiction.

"Christianity is not about forgiveness to the point of insulting Jesus Christ."

Da Vinci code
The book is now being turned into a film

"Lebanon is a country with many different religious communities and there are still laws that ban articles that offend different communities."

The book, which has sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide, portrays Catholic Church leaders as demonising women and covering up the truth about the Holy Grail, which Brown says is Mary Magdalene herself.

Roger Haddad, assistant manager at the Virgin Megastore's bookstore department in Beirut, said the book had been a success in Lebanon, where about 35% of the 3.5 million population is Christian.

"It was definitely one of our most popular books.

"This is censorship, people should be allowed to read what they want ... This book is fiction, everyone knows it's fiction. It is not political or propaganda or history."

Ahmed Fadlalla Assi, the head of Lebanon's Publisher's Union, was angry at the decision.

He said: "Salman Rushdie is forgotten in the annals of history, whereas Islam stayed on and Dan Brown will go, too, and Christianity will stay on."

The General Security Department said it consults with Christian and Muslim religious authorities on all books that deal with sensitive subjects.



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