The Sideshow

Tourists convicted of pretending to kiss Buddha statue in Sri Lanka

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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A Sri Lanken Buddhist prays at a local temple. (AFP)

Three French tourists were convicted in a Sri Lankan court after taking pictures of themselves in which they pretended to kiss a Buddhist statue.

The BBC reports that the three tourists, two women and one man, were given suspended jail terms by the court in the southern Sri Lanka town of Galle after a photo lab that developed the pictures contacted police.

"Sri Lankans consider this statue to be sacred. They desecrated it. This is uncivilized behavior," Heritage Party spokesman Udaya Gammanpila told AFP. "We condemn this action of the three French tourists and urge Westerners to please respect our culture and act decently."

The trio received a sentence of six months hard labor in prison, suspended for five years, meaning they will not actually have to serve any time in jail. They were also reportedly given a small fine of 1,500 rupees ($11) by the court.

Under Sri Lankan law, the three French tourists were convicted of violating a law that prohibits offending "the religious feelings of any class of persons," near or inside a place of worship.

After the photo lab owner contacted police, the pictures were impounded but eventually ended up on a Sri Lanken website. "I am also a Buddhist and I was very hurt when I saw what was in the pictures," the photo lab owner, Prasanna Gamage, told AFP. "That is why I refused to print them and called the police."

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