Naomi Coleman, a British tourist, pulled up her shirt to reveal the Buddha tattoo that got her arrested in Sri Lanka on Monday.
Naomi Coleman, a British tourist, pulled up her shirt to reveal the Buddha tattoo that got her arrested in Sri Lanka on Monday.
AFP / Getty Images

If you are traveling abroad and have tattoos, beware. Your tattoo just might land you in jail—or get you deported.

Just ask Naomi Coleman, a 37-year-old British nurse who was arrested Monday in Sri Lanka because of the meditating Buddha tattoo on her upper right arm.

Coleman was arrested when she arrived at the airport and taken before a magistrate, who ordered her deportation. Buddhism, Sri Lanka’s state religion, is an important part of political and social affairs. The woman’s tattoo was apparently seen as a religious insult.

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Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said Coleman was arrested for ‘‘hurting others’ religious feelings,” reports the Associated Press.

Coleman was shocked and called the incident a “terrible, hellish experience,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald. “I am a practicing Buddhist and meditate,” she said. “That is why I have the tattoo—not out of disrespect for Buddhism.”

It’s not the first time Sri Lanka has cracked down on Buddha-related activity. The country denied another Buddha-tattooed British tourist in March, sentenced three French tourists to six months in jail for kissing a Buddha statue, and banned American rapper Akon because of a music video showing women dancing in front of a Buddha, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Coleman said she’s visited Sri Lanka twice before without issue. It looks like her luck finally ran out.

While we’re on the topic of offending Sri Lanka, you should also know that using your left hand is a big no-no (but shouldn’t land you in jail—or could it?). That’s because the left hand is traditionally thought of as dirty because it is associated with cleaning yourself after going to the bathroom. Get more information about hand gestures that may offend in this 10 innocent hand gestures you should never use abroad feature.

Lesson of the day: Do your homework before traveling to another country.