Sri Lanka to deport British tourist over Buddha tattoo

A Buddha tattoo. Photograph: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images
A British tourist is to be deported from Sri Lanka because of a tattoo of Buddha on her arm.
Sri Lankan police said Naomi Coleman, 37, was arrested at Bandaranaike international airport in the capital, Colombo, after she arrived from India.
A police spokesman said she was arrested for "hurting others' religious feelings" after the tattoo of Buddha seated on a lotus flower was spotted on her right arm.
Buddhism is the religion of the country's majority ethnic Sinhalese, and Buddhist tattoos are seen as culturally insensitive.
Coleman appeared before a magistrate who ordered her deportation. The spokesman said she was being held at an immigration detention centre and would be removed "very soon – it could be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow".
In March last year another Briton, Antony Ratcliffe, was reportedly deported for sporting a Buddha tattoo on his arm. In 2011 Thailand's culture ministry said foreign tourists in Sri Lanka should be barred from getting tattoos of Buddha during their holidays.
In 2010 the R&B star Akon was refused a Sri Lankan visa and had to apologise to Sri Lankan Buddhists after his video for Sexy Chick, which featured a pool party in front of a Buddha statue, caused offence.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed it was 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 21 April. We are providing consular assistance."

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