I wonder if Leonardo Da Vinci would have ever thought that three centuries his name would give rise to so much contention. The movie Da Vinci code is being released today to much fanfare, brickbats and hunger strike threats.
There is enough said and done about the theme of the book and there's nothing I can add to the debate. I'm just amazed at how relatively trouble free the movie release has been in the western (christian) world while it has lead to all sorts of problems in Asia. Phillipines has outrightly banned the movie while India (which has 2% christians) have finally cleared the movie (after special screenings for all concerned) with additional disclaimers to be added to the beginning and end of the movie.
Indians have always protested against something or the other. We may not get anything done, but we do know how to organize a protest and not get things done. Contentious issues like Satanic Verses and the Muslim prophet muhammed cartoon fiascos have had their origins in India.
Irrespective of the religions, all Indians like to believe that if something offends them, it is not worth displaying to others. There are many incidences where protesting groups ransacked precious libraries on issues like unflattering book on Shivaji (Maratha ruler in the 17th century) or political groups like the Shiv Sena showing their might by ransacking and pillaging theatres showing movies not to their liking or taste.
The Christian group, Catholic Secular Forum, having neither political or mass backing cannot physically have the movie removed from theatres. So their secretary Joseph Dias resorted to hunger strike resulting on the current restriction on the movie. Indians like a good protest irrespective of the severity of the issue and the current government (the same one which banned satanic verses) had to make the concession on the grounds of secularism and religious freedom.
Major issues are constantly hijacked on religious grounds, but its very rare for people in power in India to stand up on principle. Sony pictures currently are fighting the disclaimers, so it will be interesting to see if the Indian government does take a stand without bowing to religious fundamentalism.