French tourists convicted for kissing Sri Lankan Buddha statue
A court in Sri Lanka has given suspended jail sentences to three French tourists for taking pictures of themselves kissing a Buddha statue. Nationalist politicians have dubbed their behaviour "uncivilised".
A photo lab in the southern town of Galle called police when two women and a man, aged between 26 and 35, tried to get the holiday photos printed.
Local police say the photos showed one of the women pretending to kiss the statue on the lips, and the man trying to imitate the Buddha’s pose.
“They had not only broken Sri Lankan law, but they have also violated universally accepted norms of respecting religious symbols of others,” Ajith Rohana, a local police spokesperson, told news agency AFP.
A local magistrate agreed and sentenced the tourists to six months in jail, suspended for five years.
They were also fined nine euros each and ordered to destroy the photos.
Sri Lanka’s National Heritage Party, which sits in the country’s coalition government, condemned the photos as insensitive and urged Western tourists to respect local Buddhist culture.
It is not the first time that religious sensitivities have caused friction between foreigners and Sri Lankan authorities.
In 2010 American rap star Akon was denied a visa into the country after locals protested over one of his music videos showing scantily clad women dancing in front of a Buddha statue.