Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lanka rejects visa for Akon

By Jamila Najmuddin and Gandhya Senanayake
The government has decided to reject a visa for popular international R&B singer Akon to perform in Sri Lanka over allegations leveled against him regarding a controversial video which showed scantily clad women dancing around a Buddha statue. Akon was to perform in Sri Lanka next month and a major tourism drive was also launched to bring down fans from Asia for the concert.

Tourism Minister Achala Jagoda had met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening to discuss the issue regarding Akon performing in Colombo and it is believed that the decision to refuse the singer a visa was taken following the discussion, Tourism Ministry sources told Daily Mirror online.

Earlier in the day the Tourism Minister had also met with other officials involved with the concert to discus concerns raised over one of his videos.

However, Lasantha Samarasinghe Director of Platinum Entertainment, the organizers of the Akon concert said that he has not been officially informed of a visa being rejected for the singer.

“We will take this up with the relevant authorities tomorrow,” Samarasinghe told Daily Mirror online. Akon is featured in the video 'Sexy Chick' by David Guetta and the making of the video shows bikini clad women dancing around a Buddha statue near a pool. Buddhist monks had called on the government to cancel the concert on the basis Akon appeared in the video and the video degraded Buddhism.

However organisers of the concert had said that Akon respected Buddhism and that the video was not his work. Earlier in the day Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, Dileep Mudadeniya told Daily Mirror online that the Tourism Ministry held discussions with the concerned authorities over the concert.

“There are many anti Sri Lankan elements who are trying to prevent such an international star from coming into the country. But at the same time there are some strong religious sentiments which are being raised. Both aspects are being studied,” Mudadeniya said.

When asked if the bureau was pressurized to reconsider facilitating the concert, Mudadeniya said the ultimate decision they take was not a result of outside pressure.

“There are a lot of concerns but that does not mean we are pressurized by anyone. The decision the minister makes is not a result of any pressure,” Mudadeniya said. 

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