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Woman with Buddha tattoo to sue Sri Lankan authorities

A woman who was deported from Sri Lanka because of a tattoo of the deity Buddha on her shoulder has revealed that she intends to sue the Sri Lankan authorities who deported her, reports the BBC.

Naomi Coleman from Coventry had visited Sri Lanka for a holiday, but was shocked when the authorities in the country refused to permit her entry and instead sent her back to the UK because of the tattoo on her arm.

Ms Coleman was surprised by the move by Sri Lankan authorities, as she has visited the country twice before, with the tattoo, and had never had any problems previously.

She is suing the Sri Lankan authorities over the way she was treated after landing there.

Ms Coleman described how she was escorted to a police station, questioned, and placed behind bars, pending a court hearing. Whilst locked up she said she was unable to see a lawyer, and had to tolerate sexual comments made by a prison guard.

"Prison officers were trying to take money off me and there was all sorts going on. I was really frightened," she told the BBC.

"[The] police didn't even inform my embassy. It's lucky my friend was there or I might still be in jail," she added.

Although the Sri Lankan tourist board apologised for the way she was treated, and paid for a business class return flight to the UK, she still intends to sue to prevent the problem happening again to other travellers.

Sri Lankan law prohibits 'deliberately and maliciously outraging the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs'.

Ms Coleman, however, is a practicing Buddhist, and has visited several other Buddhist countries including India, Nepal and Thailand, without any problems.

She said she was surprised by the reaction of the authorities, as the tattoo was respectful and that she had only ever received positive feedback about the piece of body art.