Reza Mortazavi, a 32-year-old teacher, said: "I rushed to buy the book when I heard about the ban. Now, I am more eager to know what was written in it."

The ministry of culture has banned further printing and distribution of the book, which has sold about 30,000 copies in Farsi, after Christian clerics protested against it, according to Iranian media reports.

The manager of one of the book's two Iranian publishers said people were phoning him after the government's announcement to see if they could buy the book.

Mansour Jamshir, a bookstore owner, said: "I had several calls for purchase of the book in a bulk amount and in higher prices. However, I will not sell it since officials told me not to distribute the book anymore."

Earlier this month, six Iranian Christian bishops condemned the book, saying it insulted their religion, and asked the Islamic government to ban publishers from printing it. Less than 0.2 percent of Iran's nearly 69 million people are Christian.

The book, written by American author Dan Brown, suggests that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

It came out in March 2003, and despite selling 60 million copies, it was condemned by Christian bodies around the world.

The book was also made into a movie and was a box-office hit worldwide earlier this year. The film was not shown in Iran.