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Down with Gere!

4/16/2007 12:28 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Hindu nationalists are burning Richard Gere in effigy -- no, not because of "Shall We Dance," but because of his over-affectionate behavior toward a popular Bollywood actress.

Photographs hit front pages of newspapers in India today, showing Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty on the cheek at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi -- where public displays of affection are taboo. In protest, members of the right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Shiv Sena, beat burning effigies of Gere with sticks and burned pictures of Shetty.

In the video, Gere can be seen kissing Shetty several times on the hand before hugging and kissing her on the cheek -- cheered on by fans the entire time. When Gere took to the mic, he led to the crowd in a "No condom, no sex" chant in Hindi.

Shetty came to the defense of Gere today, saying, "I understand that it might have looked like he went slightly overboard, but that was really not the intention. His intention was that of entertaining the people. "

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