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Orthodox activists burn Da Vinci Code movie ad in central Moscow

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Around 100 protestors representing a Russian Orthodox movement Thursday burned down a poster advertising the The Da Vinci Code at Pushkin Square in central Moscow, on the day of the controversial movie's premier.

MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - Around 100 protestors representing a Russian Orthodox movement Thursday burned down a poster advertising the The Da Vinci Code at Pushkin Square in central Moscow, on the day of the controversial movie's premier.

Protestors at the gathering, organized by the Union of Orthodox Citizens, held icons, crosses, and banners, one of which read: "The Da Vinci Code: if you buy a ticket you are selling Jesus."

Leonid Simonovich-Nikshych, the chairman an Orthodox organization represented at the protest, said: "Every heresy against the Church will burn in this way." He urged for "blasphemous acts against Christians" to be stopped.

On Tuesday the Moscow Patriarchy condemned the release in Russia of the film adaptation of Dan Brown's controversial bestseller, The Da Vinci Code.

The book, which centers on a conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the true story of Jesus Christ, has caused a storm of controversy around the world.

"The screening in Russian movie theaters of The Da Vinci Code, which gives a contorted and insulting interpretation of evangelic history, is a cause for regret," said Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk, deputy head of the patriarchy's foreign church relations department.

He said such events "could provoke a religious split of the nation" and cited the example of the recent scandal over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

"The reaction of Christians to such insults is usually more restrained and is not expressed in acts of violence," the archbishop said. "But this does not weaken the pain of clergymen from the insult."

He said the movie, which stars two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, would have more influence on people than the book.

Mikhail Dudko, another spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy, previously said that although The Da Vinci Code was based on a fictitious story, it would be wrong to regard the book and its movie version, merely as works of art.

"We, people of faith, are used to paying a lot of attention to words and images, and we know just how powerful they can be. This is something not to be overlooked in today's fragile and troubled world."

Dudko said that the controversial novel misrepresented the history of Christianity and events described in the Gospels. "The sheer assumption that Christ could have had children out of wedlock is insulting to believers."

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