Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sri Lanka: Three French Tourists Given Six-Month Suspended Sentences for Desecrating Buddha Shine

According to AFP, three French tourists were given suspended six-month prison sentences on Tuesday (August 21) after their holiday pictures depicted one of them--a woman-- kissing a Buddha statue in the town of Kandy on the lips, in predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka.

The trio, two women and a man, pleaded guilty to desecrating a Buddhist shrine and were also fined 1,500 rupees (US$11.33) each. Additionally, the man also attempted to imitate the pose of the Buddha in another photo. 

COMMENT: The tourists' problems began on Monday (August 20) when they used a local photo processor to make copies of their photographs. Unfortunately, the proprietor of the photo shop alerted police of the religious infraction and promptly placed the tourists under arrest, at which point they pleaded guilty to the charges filed against them.

In this case, the three French tourists no doubt were grateful to the Sri Lankan government for not jailing them for months, although their legal trouble might well have been avoided by some preliminary research on religious mores as it relates to the Buddhist faith in Sri Lanka.


The French tourists could also have been deported, but were not, considering the importance of foreign tourism in Sri Lanka. Also, see my postings of February 19, 2012 and December 26, 2011.

Sri Lanka banned US rap star Akon in March 2010 arguing that he had produced a music video involving scantily clad women in front of a Buddha statue. Eight years ago, Sri Lanka's supreme court ordered police and customs to seize Buddha Bar music and bikinis with Buddha images after monks complained they hurt local religious feelings.