French exhibitor MK2 has refused to program Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ when it is released by Quinta Distribution on Wednesday. Marin Karmitz, president of the successful cinema circuit, told Agence France Presse that he considers the film "fascist, antisemitic and of an unheard violence."

"To watch a man tortured for two hours with a box of popcorn in your hand is something that repulses me," he said. Karmitz, whose MK2 is present in distribution, is also president of the French Federation of Distributors and was very vocal in the lead up to the film being acquired for France.

Tunisian-born businessman Tarak Ben Ammar was the eventual buyer and is readying the film for release on just over 500 screens.

Meanwhile, a Paris judge today refused the claim of the three Benlolo brothers, who sought to have the film banned, saying their claim was "a narrow and simplistic vision of Mel Gibson's film.

The contested film can not be considered as inciting hate and violence against the Jewish people or as an attack on their dignity or safety given that there does not appear to be a gross manipulation of biblical texts nor that the film was made with a view to attack this particular community."

The Benlolo brothers say they will appeal.

The brothers - Patrick, Jean-Marc and Gerard Benlolo - had claimed that the film will incite violence against Jews.

Quinta argued there was no evidence it would cause public disorder and also said the brothers could not use religion as the basis for their argument, asking for the case to be thrown out.