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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Sri Lanka bans offensive images
Indian Buddha
Buddha is revered by most of the Sri Lankan population
Customs officials and police and customs in Sri Lanka have been told to seize Buddha Bar music and bikinis with Buddha images, officials say.

The music - which originates from a nightclub in Paris - and the swimwear have been deemed by the authorities as potentially offensive to Buddhists.

Some Buddhists have called for a strict enforcement of laws that stop the commercial use of religious symbols.

Buddhists comprise nearly 70% of the island's population of 19m people.

Commercial exploitation

The attorney-general ordered the seizures after Buddhist monk Daranaagama Kusaladhamma petitioned the Supreme Court to ban bikinis with Buddha images.

The monk argued that prohibitions should also be placed on candles in the shape of the Buddha and Buddha Bar albums which carry pictures of the Buddha.

Buddha Bar music is mostly instrumental lounge music which originates from a Paris night club that has become so popular that similar establishments have opened up all over the world.

Mr Kusaladhamma argued in court that the commercial exploitation of the Buddha's image hurt the sentiments of most of Sri Lanka's population.

The court on Tuesday said no new ban was needed. But it accepted the attorney-general's arguments that police and customs should strictly enforce existing laws which prevent the exploitation of religious symbols.

Pirated CDs of the Paris Buddha Bar are sold in Sri Lanka for just over a dollar.

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