French Catholic group calls for poster ban

 A court in Paris is due to decide today whether to ban a film poster depicting a crucifix twisted round a Nazi swastika. The poster, designed by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, who devised the controversial Benetton adverts, promotes the film Amen, which examines the Vatican's silence during the Holocaust. French Catholic human rights group, the General Alliance Against Racism and for Respect of French and Christian Identity, who took the case to court, said the poster offended religious sensitivities by associating "the symbol of absolute hatred and the symbol of absolute love". The film's director, Constantin Costa-Gravas, told the court: "Ultra-Catholics cannot claim the cross of Christ as theirs alone." While he said he understood why the poster had caused uproar, he added that he hoped the real debate would be over the film. Amen was shown at the Berlin film festival and opens in France next Wednesday (27 February). It tells the story of an SS officer, Kurt Gerstein, who tried to tell the world, and the Vatican in particular, about the Holocaust, while simultaneously supplying poison gas to the Nazi camps. France's Roman Catholic bishops are said to offended by the poster, but have not publicly asked for it to be withdrawn. Ten leading French Jews including Chief Rabbi Rene-Samuel Sirat have also voiced their discontent. In a statement due to be published today in the Christian magazine a Vie, they said: "We consider this amalgam of the Nazi emblem with a religious symbol to be unhealthy."

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