CECCANO, Italy — A handful of conservative Italian local councillors and activists were booed on Saturday as they burned a copy of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, which they called “blasphemous”.
The book-burning ceremony took place on the main square of the village of Ceccano, 70km south-east of Rome.
It was organised by two municipal councillors representing conservative parties – one from the Christian Democrats, the other from the National Alliance.
Ron Howard’s Hollywood film of “The Da Vinci Code” opened on Friday in Italy.
The story, which is fiction, is based around the idea that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had a daughter and that the Church has spent 2,000 years trying to cover up this fact.
The demonstrators in Ceccano called on Christians to react “with force and conviction against this horrible attack on the most holy person of Jesus Christ.”
But they were outnumbered by protestors hissing in disapproval of the symbolic incineration of a literary work.
As the bestseller’s pages were gradually consumed by flames, a number of tomatoes were thrown in the direction of the two councillors. Police were present in case things got out of hand.
“If a film denied the Shoah,” argued Christian Democrat councillor Stefano Gizzi, “it would spark an outcry. I don’t see why Christians should refrain from protesting.”
Source: Dismantling The Da Vinci Code By Sandra Miesel, Crisis, Sep. 1, 2003
Most reactions to the film and novel in Italy have been more moderate.
Many clerics have called for a boycott of the film, but others see it as just so much free publicity for the Church and the conservative Roman Catholic Opus Dei prelature, which the story presents as a criminal organisation.
Some Roman Catholic activists demonstrated on Friday in front of a large cinema in Rome that was showing the film.
The Da Vinci Code set a new Italian record for box office receipts on the first day of screening on Friday, making $2.6m, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. It is showing on 910 screens in Italy.