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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
India vets Da Vinci amid protests
Indian Christians at a rally in Mumbai
The screening follows protests from Indian Christians
Indian officials have held a special screening of controversial Hollywood blockbuster The Da Vinci Code after protests by Christians.

Government officials and Catholic leaders viewed the film after broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi received over 200 complaints.

Mr Dasmunsi said opinions would be sent by Friday to censors who would take a final decision on the film's release.

The film receives its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.

India's Central Board of Film Certification cleared the film on Monday, saying it would give it an adult rating if the film-makers agreed to a disclaimer at the start of the movie saying it was a work of fiction.

Hunger strike threat

The Da Vinci Code will be released across the world on Friday.

The film, which stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou and is directed by Ron Howard, is based on the novel by Dan Brown. It revolves around a theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and their descendants survive today.

The Indian protests follow other demonstrations in several Asian countries.

Islamic clerics in Mumbai (Bombay) backed a call by Catholics for a boycott of the film on Tuesday.

The blockbuster has caused outrage among many Christian organisations, including senior officials at the Vatican.

In India, which is home to 18 million Catholics, the head of the Catholic Secular Forum has begun a "hunger strike until death".

Audrey Tautou and Tom Hanks in a still from The Da Vinci Code film
The film stars Audrey Tautou and Tom Hanks

Joseph Dias said he wanted others to join him and pledged to continue until the film was banned.

His organisation has described The Da Vinci Code as "offensive" because it breaches "certain basic foundations of the religion".

Mr Dasmunsi said the government was being "careful" over the film.

"We are a secular country. On any sensitive issue, we should take action after we examine every aspect," he told the Associated Press.

The cast of the film travelled on a specially-painted Eurostar train from London to Cannes on Tuesday in preparation for the film's premiere.

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