A Sri Lankan court has given suspended jail terms to three French tourists for wounding the religious feelings of Buddhists by taking pictures deemed insulting. T
wo women and one man were detained in the southern town of Galle after a photographic laboratory alerted police.
The pictures show the travellers posing with Buddha statues and pretending to kiss one of them.
Mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is strictly taboo in the country. Most of Sri Lanka’s majority ethnic Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhist.
The incident is alleged to have taken place at a temple in the central town of Kandy.
Police spokesman, Ajith Rohana, said the French party had visited the laboratory to get pictures printed.
The images were impounded after the owner of the photographic laboratory alerted police, but they were later posted on a Sri Lankan website.
On Tuesday a magistrate sentenced the trio to six months in prison with hard labour, suspended for five years – which means they will not actually serve any time in jail.
The court also levied a fine of 1,500 rupees (£7, $11) on them.
They were convicted under a section of the Penal Code which outlaws deeds intended to wound or insult “the religious feelings of any class of persons” through acts committed in, upon or near sacred objects or places of worship.
A Sri Lankan woman could face the death penalty by beheading after she was arrested on suspicion of casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl during a family shopping trip, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
A Saudi man had complained his daughter had “suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman” in a shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah.
He reported her to the security forces, asking for her arrest and the specialised units dealt with the situation swiftly and arresting her.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that has no written criminal code and where court rulings are based on judges’ interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
“The punishment is always beheading for anyone found guilty of witchcraft,” a Saudi lawyer and human rights activist, Waleed Abu al-Khair, said.