Nation & World News

Tattoo Of Buddha Gets British Tourist Thrown Out Of Sri Lanka

By Scott Neuman on April 22nd, 2014

The island nation of Sri Lanka has ordered the deportation of a British tourist for arriving in the country sporting a Buddha tattooed on her arm. Authorities say the ink shows disrespect for religious feelings in the majority-Buddhist nation.

Naomi Coleman, 37, says she got through immigration at the airport near the capital, Colombo, without incident, despite wearing a short-sleeved shirt that exposed the tattoo of a Buddha seated on a bed of lotus flowers.

“It was just when I was taking my suitcases out, one of the taxi men at the stand stopped me and said, ‘Oh, this is a big problem in Sri Lanka, you’ve got a Buddha tattoo,’ ” Coleman, a mental health nurse, told the BBC.

The news agency says Coleman “[told] police in a statement that she practised Buddhism and had attended meditation retreats and workshops in Thailand, India, Cambodia and Nepal.

“Ms Coleman said she had to spend Monday night in prison in Negombo, near the airport, after appearing in court.

” ‘I went on the stand, they called me. But they didn’t let me speak or plead my case. They were just talking among themselves,’ she said.

” ‘Then they said, “You’re being deported.’ I said, ‘I’ve got another trip booked to the Maldives, can I just go there, I’ll leave Sri Lanka then.’ They said, ‘No, you’ll have to be deported back to your home country and you’ll need to go to prison for the night.’ ”

Coleman says she’s been told she may have to wait several days to leave Sri Lanka while authorities conduct extensive security checks on her “like I’m a criminal or something,” she said.

The Telegraph says the woman’s case is similar to one a year ago in which another British tourist was banned from entering Sri Lanka for precisely the same offense — a Buddha tattoo on his arm.

And The Guardian reports:

“In August 2012, three French tourists were sentenced to six months in jail, which was suspended for five years, for kissing a Buddha statue in what the authorities considered was a sign of disrespect.

“Sri Lanka prevented American rap star Akon from visiting in 2010 over one of his music videos, which featured scantily clad women dancing in front of a Buddha statue.”

About 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people are Theravada Buddhists, but the country also has significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Pope Francis opens the morning session of a two-week synod on family issues at the Vatican, on Saturday.

Vatican Bishops Scrap Opening To Gays, Divorced Members

Earlier this week an interim summary of the synod on family issues included conciliatory language on gays and on the taking of holy communion for divorced church members.


An artist's rendering of the flyby with Mars orbiters taking cover. Note that the image says "spacecraft not to scale."

Mars Probes Give Scientists Box Seats For Rare Comet Flyby

A “mountain-sized” comet known as Siding Spring will pass very close to the red planet, where orbiters from the U.S., Europe and India, hope to get close – but not too close — to the action.


Pro-democracy protesters set up new barricades after riot police retreated from a main road at Mong Kok shopping district in Hong Kong early Saturday.

Hong Kong Activists Clash With Police, Retake Protest Site

Pro-democracy protesters have replaced barricades in the congested Mong Kong district of the city hours after authorities dismantled the obstacles.


People stand on the island's south shore to feel the winds from approaching Hurricane Gonzalo, in Astwood Park, Bermuda on Friday. The storm has knocked out power to half of the residents of the British island territory.

Hurricane Gonzalo Hits Bermuda; Ana To Skirt Past Hawaii

In the British island territory, Gonzalo has wiped out power to roughly half of the island’s 70,000 inhabitants.


The Supreme Court early Saturday declined to block a Texas Voter ID law for the November election.

Supreme Court Lets Texas Enforce Voter ID Law For Nov. Election

With three justices dissenting, the high court’s ruling effectively blocks a lower federal court decision declaring the law restrictive and unconstitutional.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments