While western media is currently focused on the case of a Christian girl in Pakistan facing punishment for allegedly committing “Blasphemy” against Islam, three-thousand miles to the south Buddhists are exerting their rage over what they perceive to be an ”insult” to their faith.
Three French tourists – a man and two women – have received suspended jail sentences and fined after they were caught taking photographs in which they pretended to kiss a statue of the Buddha in a temple.
They could have received six months in prison with hard labor.
The European foreigners, detained in the southern town of Galle, were apprehended after a photographic developer alerted the police.
"The [photography studio] employee saw the images and alerted the Galle police who arrested the tourists on Monday and the case was concluded today because they pleaded guilty," said police spokesman Ajith Rohana, according to Agence France Presse.
Sri Lanka, which is 70 percent Buddhist, is extremely sensitive to any act deemed vulgar with regard to religion, especially the desecration or mistreatment of images of the Buddha.
Tourists are banned entry at shrines and temples if they are not dressed conservatively.
In recent years, other such incidents have occurred on the island nation,
BBC reported that last year five Arabs were detained after distributing "literature insulting to Buddhism". In 2010, two Sri Lankan Muslims were arrested and given suspended prison terms for selling keyrings that featured an image of the Buddha.
The American rap star Akon was refused a visa to visit Sri Lanka after it was revealed that a music video he appeared in depicted bikini-clad women dancing in front of a Buddha statue.
Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the fourth century BC by the Buddhist monk Mahinda, son of the Indian emperor Ashoka.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.