By Kshanika Argent
Aliaune Badara Akon Thiam (AKA Akon) means no disrespect to Buddhism or any race or religion and is eager to perform in Colombo according to event organizers who have secured the international R&B act.
Akon is scheduled to perform in Colombo at the SSC Stadium on April 24 in a concert that is backed by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) but a Facebook group with a growing number of members claims the singer is disrespectful of Buddhism and calls for the event to be boycotted.
The protesters claim that a David Guetta music video, in which Akon is featured, is ‘abusive’ towards the Lord Buddha. The music video shows a bikini-clad woman dancing with a Buddha statue in the backdrop.
However, speaking to Daily Mirror online, Lasantha Samarasinghe of Platinum Entertainment, the organization behind the Akon concert, stated that these claims are an attempt at tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka and will jeopardize the country’s future prospects in bringing down international artists.
Samarasinghe said, “Akon is one of the most popular artists in the international music scene at the moment and this is his first performance in the region, even India failed in its bid to secure a performance by the artist so it’s a huge event for Sri Lanka.”
He went on to state that the performance will fast-track tourism arrivals in the country as organizers expect huge crowds of tourists from India, Malaysia, the Maldives and other neighboring countries and that he has the backing of the relevant authorities and assured tight security at the event.
Samarasinghe added, “This situation needs to be handled very carefully. I will respect whatever decisions the leaders of this country may take but as a promoter of Akon, I can say that the authorities are supportive and that the artist has no concerns about performing in Colombo.”
Samarasinghe however cautioned that officials and ordinary citizens should be concerned at the message the protest is sending the world. He said, “Attempts like this paint an unfriendly image of Sri Lanka and will only make future attempts at securing such big stars more difficult. This (the protest) could be politically motivated by individuals who don’t want to see Sri Lanka prosper or it could be NGO’s or even rival event companies even who are disgruntled at me. I do know one thing, that is the concert is not about me, it’s about promoting Sri Lanka.” (Daily Mirror online)