Da Vinci Code bestseller in Iran after ban

Tehran, Iran - Iranians are rushing to purchase remaining copies of the Farsi translation of the best-selling book The Da Vinci Code after media reports on Wednesday said the government was banning the book.

Iranian media reported that the Ministry of Culture banned further printing and distribution of the book, which already had sold about 30,000 copies in the country's modest book market, after Christian clerics protested it.

The announcement sent fans of the book, titled Ramz-e Da Vinci in Iran, scurrying to Tehran bookstores to grab remaining copies.

"I rushed to buy the book when I heard about the ban. Now, I am more eager to know what was written in the book," said Reza Mortazavi, a 32-year-old teacher.

The manager of one of the book's two Iranian publishers said people were phoning him after the government's announcement to see if they could buy the book.

"I had several calls for purchase of the book in a bulk amount and in higher prices," Mansour Jamshir said. "However, I will not sell it since officials told me not to distribute the book anymore."

Earlier this month, six Iranian Christian bishops condemned the book, saying it insulted their religion, and asked the Islamic government to ban publishers from printing it. Less than 0.2 percent of Iran's nearly 69 million people are Christian. The book, written by American author Dan Brown, suggests that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. It came out in March 2003, and despite selling 60 million copies, it produced a parade of critical scorn and church condemnation from around the world. The Da Vinci Code also was made into a movie released earlier this year that was box-office hit worldwide. The movie was not shown in Iran.