Indian ruckus over Da Vinci... amusing!

In Poland, where 95% of the population is Catholic, people are amused at the demand in India to ban The Da Vinci Code.

india Updated: May 18, 2006 16:27 IST

In Poland, where 95 per cent of the population is Catholic and three ultra-rightist Catholic parties are part of the ruling coalition, people are amused at the demand in India to ban The Da Vinci Code.

"This film is going to be shown on Friday throughout Poland and the pope is going to visit Poland next Thursday. Still there are no protests to ban the film here," Jerzy Zdanowski, director of Non-European Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences, said.

"When my wife heard this news on Polish Radio and told me on phone that Christians and Muslims had come out on the streets in Mumbai to protest against the release of The Da Vinci Code, I was taken back and asked myself if I was not a good Christian?"

Christian leaders in India - where just over two per cent of the population of over a billion is Christian but at 26 million still has a significant political say in some states - say the film presents a distorted picture of their faith and would hurt religious sentiments.

But Poles are wondering what the fuss is all about.

Zdanowski's colleague Stanslaw Tokarski quipped: "Perhaps converts are better Christians than we the originals.

"It will be a sad day if the Indian government plays into the hands of narrow-minded people, the way they did it in the past when they banned Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, which also caused religious frenzy in the whole of the Middle East."

The media here is also debating the Indian response to the film.

"Fact of the matter is when the book written by Dan Brown was not banned, why should the film version be banned? It is freedom of expression, let people decide whether it is blasphemous or not," said Krzyzstof Mrzozwicz, a senior journalist in Polityka weekly who was also the Polish ambassador to India from 1996 to 2001.

"The Vatican has not taken any stand to ban or censor the film. Why are the Indian authorities seeing the whole issues with tinted glasses?

"In a country like the Philippines, where eighty percent people are Catholics, the cardinal of Manila has not proposed any ban on the movie," he added.

There is a tremendous build-up for the movie all around Poland. Metro wagons, trams and buses have been painted with scenes of the film.

The international controversy has also boosted ticket sales for the film. According to its distributors, more than two million Poles are likely to watch the movie.

First Published: May 18, 2006 16:27 IST