Italian Tourist Deported for Buddha Tattoo

By May Sitt Paing 10 November 2016

RANGOON – An Italian man was deported and barred from re-entering Burma on Tuesday for violating visa regulations due to a tattoo of Buddha on his left leg, according to police.

Mola Giannunzoo Michele, 44, arrived in Burma two days prior and was staying at the A.D.1 Hotel in Mandalay’s Chanayethazan Township.

A police officer from Mandalay’s No.6 Police Station U Khin Than said that the man was charged under Burma’s Immigration Law for violating visa regulations that state visitors must not break the country’s laws.

Section 295 of Burma’s Penal Code states that insulting religion is punishable by a fine or prison sentence.

“When applying for a visa, the foreign visitor signed a document to say he will abide by the laws of this country,” U Khin Than told The Irrawaddy. “His tattoo is a violation of the visa regulations.”

Burma is a predominantly Buddhist country and has deported a number of foreigners for tattoos that are deemed insulting to Buddha.

Last year, Philip Blackwood, a New Zealander and bar manager in Burma, posted a graphic of the Buddha wearing DJ headphones on Facebook to promote cheap drinks. He was given a two and a half year prison sentence but released under an amnesty early this year.