A British woman has been arrested and is facing deportation in Sri Lanka over a Buddha tattoo on her arm.
Naomi Michelle Coleman, 37, was taken into custody at the airport in Colombo, after she arrived from India.
Ms Coleman, who has a tattoo of a Buddha seated on a lotus flower on her right arm, was arrested for ‘hurting others’ religious feelings,’ a police spokesman said.
After her arrest at Bandaranaike International Airport, Ms Coleman appeared before a magistrate who ordered her deportation to Britain.
The spokesman said she is currently being held at an immigration detention centre until deportation and said she would be removed ‘very soon – it could be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow’.
This is not the first time body art depicting Buddha has gotten foreigners into trouble in Sri Lanka.
Buddhism is the religion of the country’s majority ethnic Sinhalese and Buddhist tattoos are seen as culturally insensitive.
Briton Antony Ratcliffe was reportedly deported for showing a Buddha tattoo on his arm in March last year.
In February 2013 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.
In 2012 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 statue.
More than 100,000 British citizens visited Sri Lanka in last year, accounting for 10 per cent of the total number of tourists, and the UK is the country’s second-largest trading partner after India.
Today, A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed they were dealing with the case of a detained British national.
She said: ‘We are aware of the detention of a British national in Sri Lanka on April 21. We are providing consular assistance.’
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