Sri Lankan authorities deported a British tourist after being arrested for sporting a Buddha tattoo on her arm. Naomi Coleman, 37, was detained at Bandaranaike International Airport in the capital Colombo after authorities saw a tattoo of Buddha on her right arm.
Police said she was arrested for “hurting others’ religious feelings” due to the ink perceived as an insult to the religion.
Coleman was later sent before a magistrate who ordered her to be deported. The spokesman said she is expected to be removed within days.
“It is a terrible, hellish experience,” said Coleman, a British nurse from Coventry in England. “I am a practicing Buddhist and meditate. That is why I have the tattoo—not out of disrespect for Buddhism.”
Majority of the country’s ethnic Sinhalese are Buddhists, and tattoos of “the enlightened one” are seen as cultural discrimination. Coleman’s was the tattoo of a meditating Buddha seated on a pink lotus flower.
Coleman said the tattoo has never created problems when she visited Sri Lanka twice before.
Kiss of death
In March last year, a British tourist was also deported after authorities spotted a Buddha tattoo on his arm. In the same year, the Cultural Ministry of Thailand said tourists should be prohibited from getting Buddha inks during their vacation.