Russian Orthodox Church slams Da Vinci Code

MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - The controversy around the Da Vince Code continued Thursday, as a senior member of the Russian Orthodox Church said it was insulting and could engender religious or ethnic violence.

The Hollywood film based on Dan Brown's bestseller opened the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 17 and is now being screened worldwide. It has already come under vehement criticism from the Vatican.

"This film deeply hurts our religious feelings," said Metropolitan Kirill, addressing an expert meeting of the world's religious figures in Moscow.

"It has been made not by Muslims, Jews or Hindus, but by people who are outside any religious tradition," he said. "They found it possible to insult a religious tradition under the disguise of freedom."

The metropolitan also commented on an "outrageous exhibition" called "Beware of Religion", which opened in Moscow in January 2003. The exhibition featured, among other things, an image of Jesus combined with a Coca Cola logotype, a figure of a saint whose face was cut out so that visitors could place their faces in the hole for a picture, and a poster with a crucified naked prostitute.

A Moscow court then found the director of the exhibition site and his assistant guilty of inflaming religious hatred, and fined them 100,000 rubles each ($3,700).

Metropolitan Kirill said that believers had destroyed the exhibition, sparking heated debates in society about whether such a protest was proper. The overwhelming majority of Russians then said that it was blasphemy against religious and sacred values.

In warning that was clearly hinting at the Hollywood movie with Tom Hanks, he said: "If we let people insult religion, it will be impossible to keep them from ethnic conflicts."


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