Egyptian Cops Seize Pirated 'Da Vinci Code' DVDs

Police seized 2,000 pirated DVDs of "The Da Vinci Code" Saturday as an official from the Egyptian Coptic Christian church demanded that the Hollywood film be banned from the country's movie theaters.

The film has not been shown at Egyptian cinemas and the government has not decided whether to permit its screening.

Police arrested the owner of a local movie production and distribution company when they discovered 2,000 pirated DVDs of the film in his possession after following up on a tip a police source said speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements to the media.

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

Bishop Morcos, a spokesman for Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's largest church, praised the police effort to prevent the distribution of the illegal copies and urged the government to bar the film, saying it could spread misinformation about Christianity.

"We hope that the government will ban this movie, for the sake of Christians' feelings," Morcos told The Associated Press.

Egypt's Copts, whose liturgy follows Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions, account for an estimated 10 percent of Egypt's 73 million people.

The head of Egypt's censorship bureau, Ali Abu Shadi said that film hasn't been banned because it has not arrived in Egypt.

"We have to see it first, and according to our rules, we will decide whether to bar the movie or to cut some scenes," Abu Shadi told the AP.

He would not say whether any Egyptian film distribution companies intend to try to bring the movie to local theaters.

Despite lukewarm reviews and controversial content, the Tom Hanks religious thriller reaped treasure at the box office recently, selling hundreds of millions worth of tickets worldwide.

The film, from Sony Pictures, had the best opening weekend of the year so far and became the second-largest worldwide release after last year's "Star Wars: Episode III."

Christians in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Bahrain have either protested the film or expressed concern about it.