The R&B star Akon was planning to hold a concert in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on the 24th of April and around 12,000 of Akon’s fans were hoping to enjoy the sound of R&B music. But the video, ‘Sexy (Bitch) Chick”, which included a visual of a Buddha Statue as background to a scene, was disturbing to the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka, leading to loud protests against the proposed visit. The story on the Buddhist protests towards Akon’s visit can be found in more detail at ….

From viewing the offensive clip, I believe that the inclusion of the Buddha Statue was not purposefully done with the intent to insult the religion from Akon’s point of view. Nevertheless, I am sad about the absence of cultural sensitivity in Akon that this indicates, especially as a popular star.

My focus in this story goes beyond this single incident: it is about the politics of using this unrest to curtail the democratic rights of the Sri Lankan citizens. The main media sponsor of Akon’s visit was a popular, private television station that often takes an alternative voice from the mainstream government news streams. An organized attack was directed at this media station, using the excuse of the Buddhist opposition towards Akon’s visit. Several people were injured in this attack and 16 people were arrested by police. Rumors are circulating that the organisation of this gang can be traced to a certain Minister of the government. But no one wants to turn against him because his brute power is stronger than the democratic values of the country.

Buddhika Harshadeva, Sri Lanka Local Correspondent, 29 March 2010