Maldives to host Akon’s aborted Sri Lanka concert

March 30, 2010 (AFP) – The Maldives stepped in on Tuesday to offer US rap star Akon a replacement concert after his scheduled appearance in Sri Lanka next month was scuttled by protesting Buddhist monks. “We are very happy he is planning to come and perform,” President Mohamed Nasheed’s press secretary Mohamed Zuhair told AFP by telephone from the atoll nation.

Akon’s Colombo concert scheduled for April 24 was blocked after monks complained about his “Sexy Bitch” music video featuring women in bikinis dancing around a pool. A Buddha statue was visible briefly in the background.

Akon’s agent, American Talent, was not immediately available for comment, but the concert in the capital Male is reportedly planned for April 23.

Sri Lanka’s tourism minister Achala Jagoda said Colombo could not issue a visa to the Grammy Award-nominated star because the video “was insensitive to Sri Lanka’s (Buddhist) cultural heritage.”

The cancelled show, which was reported to have sold out with tickets priced at 25,000 rupees (220 dollars), also attracted criticism from thousands of Sri Lankans on Facebook and blogs. Majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka projects itself as a secular country but is highly sensitive to