February 20, 2004 10:15 AM

While Mel Gibson has been busy defending himself against charges that his new film, “The Passion of the Christ,” is anti-Semitic and poorly portrays the biblical history of Jews, the director’s dad has stepped out and given critics more reason to be upset.

Just as “Passion” was being expanded to 2,800 theaters for its Feb. 25 opening, Mel’s dad, Hutton Gibson, said in a recent radio interview that he believed the Holocaust — during which 6 million Jews were killed — was “mostly fiction,” the Associated Press reports.

Gibson also said that Jews wanted to take control of the world. “They’re after one world religion and one world government,” he said in an interview with radio host Steve Feuerstein.

This is not the first time the actor’s father has come out with such statements. In past interviews, he has made other inciting comments about the Holocaust and Judaism, AP reports. Hutton Gibson belongs to a wing of Catholic traditionalists who have rejected reforms made by the Second Vatican Council.

Some Jewish leaders have called for a boycott of all of Mel Gibson’s films, while others have condemned “Passion,” which Gibson financed himself for $30 million. When asked previously if he shares his father’s beliefs, Gibson has said that he loves his father and that he refuses to speak out against him.

But during an interview with Diane Sawyer earlier this week, Gibson defended “Passion” against its detractors. “To be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian,” he said. “And I’m not (un-Christian).”

A spokesman for Gibson declined to comment on the recent interview by the actor’s father.

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