Sri Lanka minister regrets Akon’s cancelled concert

March 25, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka lost a “priceless” promotional opportunity by banning the US star Akon from performing at a concert in Colombo following protests from Buddhist monks, the tourism minister said Thursday. The rapper’s concert on 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.

“We were expecting about 5,000 to 6,000 tourist from India, Maldives and Malaysia to watch the show. The mileage we would have got would have been priceless,” Achala Jagoda told reporters in Colombo.

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

“But this does not mean that we have a Taliban-style Buddhist following in Sri Lanka. Some parts of Akon’s video were not culturally suitable for us,” Jagoda said.

The 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.

Majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka projects itself as a secular country, but is highly sensitive t