A British tourist had issues getting through immigration in Sri Lanka after showing a Buddha tattoo on his arm. The BBC reported that Antony Ratcliffe, 42, from Nottingham was at an airport in Colombo when he was turned away from entering for showing a lack of respect for Buddhism.
Srilankafoundation.com reported that he was quizzed at Bandaranaike International Airport by authorities. "The act was deemed offensive to the majority Sinhalese community, who constitute 74 per cent of Lanka's population," reported Srilankafoundation.com.
Ratcliffe said to the BBC that the tattoos were "inoffensive" and they were meant as a tribute.
He was on his way to Malaysia en route to London and had a 12 hour stop over at the airport. He had a two-day valid visa but was still detained in an area after immigration officers spotted that Buddha's head tattoo that was peaking out from one of the sleeves of his t-shirt.
"As soon as he saw it the chief officer went crazy. You could see it on his face, he looked really angry and said I would have to go back to London," Ratcliffe told the BBC.
An immigration officer at the airport said to a local newspaper that he had spoken "very disrespectfully" about Buddhism, reported The BBC.
Ratcliffe however, says he remained calm through the stressfull ordeal.
"They took my passport and held me there for an hour and a half. All the time they were bringing people in to look at my arm, and they were shaking their heads," he said to the BBC."I was explaining my case, pleading basically, and the chief officer just told me to 'shut up, shut up' and he refused to talk to me."
"I like the artwork in tattoos obviously and, due to my belief in Buddhist philosophy which I have followed for many years, I thought a quality tattoo of the Buddha was rather apt.
"It wasn't something I took lightly or did on the spur of the moment."
He was eventually allowed to get on his flight to Kuala Lumpur but had more questioning when he landed in Malaysia.
"The whole experience has been a shock - it has been upsetting and a waste of my time. I'm not taking it further, but when I saw they had accused me of speaking disrespectfully about Buddhism, I had to put my side of the story", he said to the BBC.
Sri Lanka is highly frequented by British tourists. The BBC reported that more than 100,000 British citizens visited the country last year.
See a photo of his tattoo here.
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