Buddhist riot over Akon concert in Sri Lanka: The Church of England Newspaper, April 9, 2010 p 8. April 16, 2010Posted by geoconger in Buddhism, Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper, Popular Culture.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Buddhist extremists have forced the cancellation of a concert tour in Sri Lanka by the pop singer Akon, after a mob ransacked the offices of his booking agent in Colombo for insulting the Buddha.
On March 31, the Anglican Bishop of Colombo denounced the failure of the police to stop the riot, and also condemned the arrest by the police of a Buddhist convert to Islam for allegedly defaming Buddhism.
On March 22, Buddhist extremists attacked the offices of Sirasa Media, who in cooperation with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau was organizing the tour for Akon, the stage name of Aliaune Badara Akon Thiam, an American pop singer of Senegalese extraction.
The protesters were offended by Akon’s latest video “Sexy Chick,” which shows bikini-clad women dancing at a pool party, while in the background stands a statue of the Buddha. Jathika Bhikku Sansadaya, a Buddhist monk organization affiliated with the Sinhala nationalist party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) demanded the government cancel the concert stating Akon had insulted Buddhism.
After the riot, Tourism Minister Achala Jagoda met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and on March 23 the government announced that it would not issue Akon a visa, forcing the cancellation of the tour.
Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo upbraided the police for their inaction. “Reports that the police failed to prevent the attack and did not object to some of the perpetrators of this offense being released on bail the same day, are worrying,” he said.
“Such behavior implies political patronage in the attack and political interference in the investigations. When some who frame the laws of the land and some of those responsible for the enforcement of the law disregard the law, the plight of the people is critical,” he said in a statement given to the media.
Bishop de Chickera also criticized the detention of Malini Perera, a Sri Lankan expatriate living in Bahrain who had written two books describing her conversion from Buddhism to Islam. Police arrested the 38-year old author while she was on holiday in Sri Lanka, charging that her books offended the religious sensibilities of Buddhists.
“The detention of Malini Perera, a Sri Lankan who converted to Islam, reportedly on the grounds of defamation of Buddhism, needs clarification,” the bishop said.
“It will help to know exactly how the contents of the books she wrote defame Buddhism. If not, it would appear that she is being punished for either converting to Islam or for publishing her religious experiences; both of which cannot be considered offenses and are well within her rights,” the bishop said.