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'The Da Vinci Code' Movie Opens in Asia Despite Scattered Protests


The movie 'The Da Vinci Code' has has been released across much of Asia, despite calls for a ban by Christian groups in the region.

Christians complained, Thai censors threatened to cut out the last 10 minutes, and the Manila city government banned the film completely.

But despite these minor obstacles, The Da Vinci Code, based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel, has opened in much of Asia with little more than scattered protests.

Thai censors, reacting to criticism from the country's minority Christian community, originally announced that they were going to cut the final ten minutes of the movie, but backed down at the last minute. China's normally strict censors also cleared the film with no deletions.

The movie opened as far afield as India, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong.

The only Asians barred from watching the film were the residents of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Asia's only predominantly Christian country.

Pedro Quitorio, spokesperson for the powerful Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines, says Church leaders have pointed out errors in the film, but he expressed a tolerant view of the controversial story.

"We don't easily get bothered with a book or a movie, because for sure our faith is much, much deeper than that, and we realize if we really follow the teachings of Christ, we should be relaxed," he said.

But Manila's city council banned the film anyway, calling it "offensive" and "contrary to established religious beliefs."

Criticism of the film expressed across the region echoes that in the West: that the film's suggestion that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and had children with her, is blasphemous.

Christian leaders in South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and India called for the censorship or outright ban of the movie, but their complaints were largely ignored in a region where Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are by far the dominant religions.

If history is any guide, even the residents of Manila will soon be able to see the film - on pirated DVDs.

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