Pakistan on Saturday banned cinemas from showing "The Da Vinci Code" because it contained what officials called blasphemous material about Jesus.

Although the film has not been screened in any theater in mostly-Muslim Pakistan, authorities decided to ban it out of respect for the feelings of the country's minority Christians.

Earlier this week, Christians staged protests in two Pakistani cities against the movie, demanding a global ban. Christians make up about 3 percent of Pakistan's 150 million people.

The film version of Dan Brown's murder mystery novel is based around the premise that Jesus Christ and one of his followers, Mary Magdalene, had children whose descendants are still alive.

"Islam teaches us to respect all prophets of Allah mighty, and degradation of any prophet is tantamount to defamation of the rest," Minister for Culture Ghulam Jamal was quoted as saying by the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Shahbaz Bhatti, a prominent Christian leader, thanked the country's leadership and said the ban will go a long way to ensuring sectarian harmony.

"The Da Vinci Code is a sacrilegious act in the guise of freedom of expression and fiction," Bhatti said Saturday. "It has hurt the religious sentiments of Christians and Muslims throughout the world."

He also criticized Brown, saying the author had "evil intentions" and wanted "to undermine the historical as well as theological truth about Jesus Christ."