Gibson slams anti-Semitic claims (NEWS.com.au)
From correspondents in Los Angeles
June 14, 2003
HOLLYWOOD star and filmmaker Mel Gibson has hit out for the first time at claims that either he or his controversial new film about the death of Christ was anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic.
The comments, in an exclusive statement to entertainment industry bible Daily Variety today, mark the first time that the star, a strict Catholic, has spoken out about the furore.
"To be certain, neither I nor my film is anti-Semitic," Gibson said following an outcry sparked by fears that the movie - The Passion - which is still in production, might portray both Jews and Catholics in a negative life.
"If the intense scrutiny during my 25 years in public life revealed I had ever persecuted or discriminated against anyone based on race or creed, I would be all too willing to make amends. But there is no such record.
"Nor do I hate anybody - certainly not the Jews," Gibson wrote, adding that many of his friends and business associates were Jewish.
"Anti-Semitism is not only contrary to my personal beliefs, it is also contrary to the core message of my movie," he said.
The statement came after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which with the Jewish Anti-Defamation League had also criticised the movie after obtaining a copy of the script, apologised for its stance.
"The Passion is a movie meant to inspire not offend," Gibson said of the film that portrays the last hours in the life of Christ and parts of which are played in the ancient tongues of Latin and Aramaic.
The controversy continues. I'm baffled, by the way, about how the film could portray Catholics in any sort of light. Personally, I'm going wait to decide what I think of the movie until after I've seen it.