Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Akon refused Sri Lankan visa after protests

Akon
Akon was due to perform in the country in April

Sri Lanka has refused to issue a visa to R&B star Akon, who was due to perform there next month, saying he offended the country's Buddhists.

The ban comes after protests over one of the star's music videos featuring scantily-clad women dancing in front of a statue of Buddha.

A spokesperson for Akon said later that, due to the protests, the star had "decided to postpone" his show.

They said they hoped to have the issue "resolved in the coming weeks".

In a statement, the government said the video for Sexy Chick by David Guetta, featuring Akon on vocals, "triggered a lot of disappointment among Buddhists".

It added some of Akon's lyrics were not "suitable for public articulation".

Spiritual man

On Monday, hundreds of people stormed the head offices of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television Network, the media sponsor of the planned concert.

Four workers were injured and windows and parked cars were smashed after protesters threw stones at the building.

"Considering the controversial video images, offensive song lyrics and strong protests coming from various cultural, religious groups and organisations in the country, the government was compelled to take this decision," the government said.

Akon said he was "disheartened" to hear of the protests.

"I was not aware that the statue was even on the set of the video until now. I would never set out to offend or desecrate anyone's religion or religious beliefs," he said in a statement.

"I myself am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended, but violence is never the answer and I am disheartened to hear about what happened yesterday."

Akon's international booking firm, American Talent Agency, said it hoped to reschedule the concert after ensuring the safety of the singer and his fans.

Concert promoter Lasantha Samarasinghe said he would ask the government to reconsider its decision, adding that the concert would boost tourism and help the country's economy.



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