Friday, March 26, 2010

Sri Lankan Buddhist Angry At Akon

Mar 23, 2010. Sri Lanka said it would deny a visa to singer Akon, whose planned April concert in the island nation sparked rock-throwing protests by Buddhists offended by one of his videos.

A day earlier, hundreds of people stormed the head office of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television (MBC/MTV) Network, a sponsor of Akon's planned April concert. Four employees were injured and windows and parked cars were smashed.
Akon's video for the song "Sexy B*tch" features scantily clad women dancing in front of a statue of the Buddha. Sri Lanka's ethnic majority Sinhalese are primarily Buddhists.

"Taking into consideration the allegations leveled against the singer Akon, the government had decided not to issue him a visa to conduct the concert in Sri Lanka," Anusha Palpita, the Government Information Department's director-general, said.
Palpita said that the main allegation against Akon was that he was "defaming Buddhism in his music videos."

Representatives for Akon could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sri Lanka's Buddhist clergy are hugely influential in ordinary life and politics, and in the past hardline Sinhalese nationalists have become violent against those they see as offending Buddhism.

The attack by an estimated 200 people on the pro-opposition network, which runs three TV and four radio stations from its headquarters in central Colombo, came as the campaign for parliamentary polls on April 8 heats up.

This is the said video.

I think the Sri Lankan Buddhist have overeacted over this issue. They should have voiced out their displeasure in a diplomatic way, perhaps even asking the government to deny the singer entry instead of going on a rampage at the building.

The Buddha statue appears very briefly in the video. I am sure many do not even notice it. It certainly does not warrant such hostile reaction from the Sri Lankan Buddhists. If they claimed Akon was desecrating Buddha in the video, then they themselves were no difference from him. Buddhism teaches about tolerance and abstinence from hurting the others but what the Sri Lankans have done was the total opposite.

Having said that, the producer of the video should have shown more sensitivity towards other faiths. It was fortunate for the producer and Akon that only a small group of Buddhists reacted to this. If it had involved another religion, there would be outbursts throughout the world and they probably had to go hiding then. With or without the controversy, i don't like this video. It looks cheap.