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UK tourist recounts 'hellish' time in Sri Lanka over Buddha tattoo

Published on Apr 23, 2014 6:54 AM
British tourist Naomi Coleman poses for a photograph to display a tattoo of the Buddha on her upper arm, after she was arrested at Sri Lanka's main international airport and later ordered with deportation for having a tattoo of the Buddha, in Colombo on April 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (AFP) - A 37-year-old British nurse recounted on Tuesday her "hellish" experience in Sri Lanka after she was arrested and sent to a deportation centre for sporting a Buddha tattoo deemed offensive by authorities.

Naomi Coleman was arrested at the country's main international airport on Monday shortly after her arrival on a flight from neighbouring India and appeared before a magistrate who ordered her deportation, police said in a statement.

"It is a terrible, hellish experience," Coleman, a mental health nurse from Coventry in England, told AFP by telephone at the Sri Lankan deportation centre.

"I am a practising Buddhist and meditate. That is why I have the tattoo - not out of disrespect for Buddhism." Earlier, pulling up her white t-shirt, Coleman displayed for an AFP photographer the tattoo of a meditating Buddha seated on a pink lotus flower on the upper part of her right arm.

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