LATEST: Mel Gibson's new movie The Passion has been given the official thumbs down by America's ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE.

The controversial film, about the final hours of Jesus Christ's life, was screened for select religious leaders yesterday (11AUG03), and ADL officials were far from happy with what they saw.

ABRAHAM FOXMAN, who has been among those heaping criticism on the ambitious project - shot in Italy in the ancient languages of Aramaic and Latin - is convinced the film will infuriate and upset religious people.

Foxman says, "We are deeply concerned that the film, if released in its present form, will fuel the hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism that many responsible churches have worked hard to repudiate."

Fellow ADL official RABBI EUGENE KORN, who also saw the movie, adds, "This is not a disagreement between the Jews and Mr Gibson. Many theologically-informed Catholics and Protestants have expressed the same concerns regarding anti-Semitism and that this film may undermine Christian-Jewish dialogue and could turn back the clock on decades of positive progress in interfaith relations."

13/08/2003 00:14