Woman claims Buddha tattoo led to deportation order

British tourist Naomi Coleman poses for a photograph to display a tattoo of the Buddha on her upper...

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. (AFP PHOTO/LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI)

Canoe.ca

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

A British woman says her Buddha tattoo is getting her kicked out of Sri Lanka.

Naomi Coleman, 37, told the BBC she was arrested at the airport in the capital of Colombo for “hurting others’ religious feelings.”

She said she was stopped at a taxi stand where a driver told her, “Oh, this is a big problem in Sri Lanka, you’ve got a Buddha tattoo.”

She was then taken to a police station where she defended the tattoo, saying she practises Buddhism. She was held in custody and appeared before a court, where Coleman said she was not allowed to speak.

“They were just talking among themselves,” she said.

“Then they said, 'You're being deported.' I said, 'I've got another trip booked to the Maldives, can I just go there, I'll leave Sri Lanka then.' They said, 'No, you'll have to be deported back to your home country and you'll need to go to prison for the night.'”

Coleman will be returned to the U.K. after officials carry out security checks on her, she told the BBC.

The British High Commission in Sri Lanka said they were aware of the case and providing consular assistance.


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