Da Vinci Code release sparks calls for fatal hunger strikes in India

Mumbai, India - A Catholic group called on Christians to starve themselves to death in protest at the release of the "The Da Vinci Code" at cinemas in India.

The Catholic Secular Forum said it hoped thousand of people would attend a protest Wednesday in Mumbai to burn effigies of Dan Brown, the author of the best-selling novel.

"It's to show the extent that our feelings have been hurt," said the group's general secretary Joseph Dias.

He denied the hunger strike was irresponsible. "It's a more Christian way of doing things rather than pulling down things and tearing them up," he said.

The film, scheduled for global release on May 19, will be dubbed into four languages and will be distributed across India, a spokesman for Sony Pictures said Wednesday.

The planned protest in Mumbai is the latest around the world against the controversial film, starring Tom Hanks, and based on Brown's best-selling novel.

The film explores the idea that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene, had children, and that their descendants are alive today.

Christian churches have condemned "The Da Vinci Code" as an attack on their faith and an aide of

Pope Benedict XVI has called it a "perversely anti-Christian novel."

About two percent of India's 1.1 billion people are Christians.

The Catholic group also called for a second film, "Tickle My Funny Bone," to be banned saying it told the story of a "sexy nun," according to reports.