Paris court refuses to ban Passion of the Christ

30th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 29 (AFP) - A demand that Mel Gibson's popular film, "The Passion of the Christ", be banned in France because of a perceived anti-Semitic theme was thrown out by a Paris court Monday.

PARIS, March 29 (AFP) - A demand that Mel Gibson's popular film, "The Passion of the Christ", be banned in France because of a perceived anti-Semitic theme was thrown out by a Paris court Monday.

"The film in question... cannot be considered an incitation to hate and violence against people of the Jewish confession or attacking their dignity or safety," the judge hearing the matter, Florence Lagemi, said.

She rejected the request for a ban lodged by three French Jewish brothers, Patrick, Jean-Marc and Gerard Benlolo, clearing the way for the movie to open nationally on Wednesday.

The judge said the film did not threaten the safety of Jews "seeing as it did not appear that there had been major manipulation of the Biblical texts, nor that there film was made with an obvious aim to attack that community."

The Benlolos had claimed that the film, which depicts the final hours of Jesus Christ's life before crucifixion, incited anti-Jewish hatred "because it resulted in an erroneous presentation of the Bible by showing the Jews to be deicides (god killers), which is the cause of persecution against Jews."

That contention also surfaced in the lead-up to the film's screenings in the United States, creating media interest that contributed to its major commercial success there.

It has become the biggest-grossing US movie so far this year, raking in more than USD 300 million (EUR 250 million).

Although the movie has been held to be faithful to the New Testament Gospels, some Jews have criticised it for repeating scenes from those texts depicting Jews as responsible for Jesus Christ's death.

Gibson, an Australian actor and director, adheres to a fringe Catholic faith that rejects a series of Vatican decrees issued between 1962 and 1965 exculpating Jews.

The Benlolo brothers said they intended to appeal the judge's decision.

© AFP

                                               Subject: French news

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