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Lebanon bans Da Vinci Code

 The Da Vinci Code has been banned in Lebanon after Catholic leaders said it was offensive to Christianity. Book shops have been told to remove all copies from their shelves.

In the best seller by Dan Brown, an imaginary academic uncovers riddles hidden in the religious works of Leonardo da Vinci which indicate that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child. 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.

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

Ahmed Fadlalla Assi, the head of Lebanon's Publisher's Union, was angry at the decision saying he did not feel teh book would harm Christianity. 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."

First posted LONDON - 17 September 2004 - 233 words