Belarus stops screening Da Vinci Code after protest

Minsk, Belarus - "The Da Vinci Code" has been pulled from cinemas in the Belarus capital after only four days because Christian groups in the ex-Soviet state complained the film was offensive, the state film distributor said on Tuesday.

Christian groups have also protested in India, Thailand and South Korea about the film, an adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel which suggests that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had a child by her and that elements of the Catholic Church plotted to suppress all knowledge of this.

Leaders of Belarus's majority Orthodox Church and large Catholic community launched a campaign in the local media to have the film banned, saying it was offensive and could undermine Christian beliefs.

"We showed the film for four days in Minsk's largest cinemas to give everyone a chance to go to see it," an official from the state company Kinovideoprokat told Reuters. "We have decided to alter cinema programs due to the protests."

Cinemas in the capital Minsk replaced "The Da Vinci Code" with "Memoirs of a Geisha".

President Alexander Lukashenko, accused in the West of crushing fundamental rights and harassing independent cultural institutions, reveres Soviet traditions but enjoys close ties with Belarus's Orthodox Church. He has repeatedly urged Belarus's 10 million people to be wary of Western culture.