Asia/Pacific - Sri Lanka/Maldives
Sri Lankan monks storm government office in "Hollywood Buddha" protest
(AFP, September 15, 2004)
Dozens of Buddhist monks stormed a Sri Lankan government office urging the authorities to act over a controversial film poster which has enraged the religion's followers.
The monks rushed Sri Lanka's Buddhist affairs ministry in the latest protest against the "Hollywood Buddha" poster, which shows the film's producer sitting on a Buddha statue.
Dozens of monks had already staged a demonstration outside the US embassy here, with similar protests taking place in Thailand.
But Buddhist affairs ministry secretary D.W. Abeywickrama said the continuing protests were just giving the film free publicity.
"The controversy has given them free publicity internationally," he said, adding that the script of the movie did not insult Buddhism and that US-based French producer Philippe Caland had withdrawn the poster and apologised.
Foreign ministry officials said they sent copies of Caland's apology to local newspapers to calm the majority Buddhist community.
"Those who are protesting today have not informed themselves of the development," Abeywickrama said.
A website promoting the movie carries a tiny version of the offending poster but says a new poster will be released later this month to coincide with the movie's premier.