COLOMBO -Sri Lankan authorities have denied a British tourist entry because of his ‘disrespect’ for Buddhism on arrival at the airport. An immigration official at Colombo’s international airport said that when the unnamed tourist was asked about a Buddha tattoo on his arm on Friday he had spoken ‘very disrespectfully’ about Buddhism.
‘If he expressed such views after entering the country, it would have been a threat to his own safety,’ an immigration official at Bandaranaike International Airport told local newspaper Lankadeepa Sinhalese.
Sri Lanka, a mainly Buddhist nation, is highly sensitive to perceived insults to the religion and there have been a number of incidents with tourist indiscretions recently
In February a tourist from Netherlands was arrested by police in Kandy, central Sri Lanka, for having a large tattoo of Buddha prominently on her back, Gossip Lanka News reported. She was fined and released after saying that she had not intended to cause offence.
Last year three French tourists were given suspended prison sentences for taking photographs in which they pretended to kiss a statue of Buddha at a temple.
The American rapper Akon also realised the offence he had caused when he was refused a visa in 2010 after protests over one of his music videos in which scantily-clad women danced in front of a Buddha statie
More than 100,000 British citizens visited Sri Lanka in last year, accounting for 10% of the total number of tourists.
The UK is also the country’s second-largest trading partner after India.
Sri Lanka is not the only country trying to impress upon tourists how offensive they find westerners getting Buddha tattoos as a fashion statement.
Thai ministers have also said they will discourage tattoo parlours in Thailand from giving tourists the Buddha tattoos they ask for.