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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
'Degrading' film angers Buddhists
Colombo protest against Hollywood Buddha
Monks have written to the US ambassador in Colombo
Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have protested against a Hollywood film they say degrades the religion's founder.

A poster for Hollywood Buddha shows US-based producer, director and star Philippe Caland sitting on the head of a statue of Lord Buddha.

About 500 Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Burma gathered outside the US embassy in Colombo on Monday to protest at the movie.

It tells of a film producer who turns to Buddhism to boost his career.

'Insult'

The poster sparked previous protests in Thailand.

Poster of Hollywood Buddha that has offended Buddhist monks in Thailand and Sri Lanka
The poster also sparked protests in Thailand

Mr Caland responded by saying he regretted offending Buddhists and that he would withdraw the advertisement.

But he said the US release of the film would go ahead on 24 September.

The BBC's Chloe Arnold in Colombo says prominent Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have written to the US ambassador here calling for all the scenes they say denigrate the Buddhist faith to be removed.

Sri Lanka's cultural affairs minister, Vijitha Herath, said the film had scenes that were harmful to Buddhism and were an insult to all religions.

"We want the release of this film stopped," monk Mawarale Baddiya told the Associated Press.

"The film scoffs at Lord Buddha, his character and his teaching."

The Venerable Banida, from Burma, added: "If they don't recall the movie from the cinemas then we will ask our devotees to boycott this film."

Hollywood Buddha won Best Picture and Best Director at the Taos film festival in New Mexico.

In the film, the struggling producer rents a Buddha statue and, empowered by the support of his new-found religion, starts to turn things around.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Chloe Arnold
"More than 500 monks... joined the protest"



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