Three French tourists were given suspended six-month prison sentences in Sri Lanka after their holiday pictures appeared to show one of them — a woman — kissing a Buddha statue on the lips.
All three — two women and a man — pleaded guilty to desecrating a Buddhist shrine in the central town of Kandy and were also fined 1,500 rupees ($11) each, police told AFP.
As well as the woman’s apparent kiss, the man tried to imitate the pose of the Buddha and their actions hurt the feelings of Buddhists in the country, police told a magistrate in Galle.
Officers were alerted to the incident after the visitors tried to get their holiday pictures printed.
“The studio employee saw the images and alerted the Galle police who arrested the tourists on Monday and the case was concluded today (Tuesday) because they pleaded guilty,” said police spokesman Ajith Rohana.
The tourists were free to go as their jail sentences were suspended for five years and the magistrate did not make any order to expel them from the country, he added.
Sri Lanka is majority Buddhist and is sensitive to foreigners showing disrespect to Buddha images. Shrines and temples have banned tourists visiting unless they are conservatively dressed.
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.