UK

British Tourist Deported From Sri Lanka Over Buddha Tattoo Says Authorities 'Haven't Shown Much Compassion'

24/04/2014 12:59 BST | Updated 24/04/2014 13:59 BST

A British tourist who will be deported back to London for having a Buddha tattoo on her arm has complained the Sri Lankan authorities have not “shown much compassion”.

Naomi Michelle Coleman was arrested at the country’s main international airport on Monday and appeared before a magistrate who ordered her deportation.

She will now be unable to continue her intended trip to the Maldives.

naomi coleman buddha tattoo sri lanka deported

Naomi Coleman will be deported back to London imminently

Speaking to the BBC, the 37-year-old said she told police she practised Buddhism and had attended meditation retreats and workshops in Thailand, India, Cambodia and Nepal.

But she says she was informed she had been arrested for “hurting others’ religious feelings.”

She added: “They haven’t shown much compassion or forgiveness here, I didn’t even get a chance to speak to the judge.”

Sri Lanka has previously shown sensitivity to perceived threats to Buddhism – the nation’s majority religion.

Last year a British tourist was denied entry to the country at Colombo’s international airport because he spoke “very disrespectfully” when asked about a Buddha tattoo on his arm.

Sri Lanka’s Adaderana newspaper cited an immigration official as saying such views would have constituted a “threat to his own safety” in the country.

In 2010 American singer Akon was denied a visa after protests over one of his music videos, which featured scantily-clad women dancing in front of a statue of Buddha.