Canadian Jason Polley's Buddha tattoos get him kicked out of Myanmar

Canadian Jason Polley’s Buddha tattoos get him kicked out of Myanmar

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Canadian Jason Polley's Buddha tattoos get him kicked out of Myanmar

Tattoo Myanmar Jason Polley Jason S. Polley, originally of Russell, Ont., is an English teacher at Honk Kong Baptist University. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Jason S. Polley)

A backpacking Canadian university teacher said Tuesday he and his girlfriend were forced to leave Myanmar after his leg tattoos caused a stir.

Jason Polley, who teaches English at Hong Kong Baptist University, said the problem started a day after he and Margaret Lam, his girlfriend, arrived in the country last Tuesday. That day, a local person took a picture of his Buddha tattoos and posted it on Facebook.

The photo apparently went viral in the southeast Asian country, which experiences Buddhist-Muslim conflict and is home to many who consider lower body parts unclean.

In an interview from Bangkok, Polley said about 15 tourism officials came to his hotel in Inle Lake, north of the capital Yangon, on Saturday night and "accosted" him in the lobby.

"They said, ‘Why would you put these tattoos on your leg? You understand that you’re a Facebook star in Myanmar?"’ he said by phone. Tattoos chart Buddhism’s development

Tattoo Myanmar Jason Polley Polley says he was vacationing in Myanmar when he was forced to leave because his tattoos of the religious figure Buddha supposedly caused offence. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Jason S. Polley)

Polley, of Russell, Ont., is a Mahayana Buddhist and his tattoos, which chart the religion’s development, are on his leg to represent a pillar of support.

He said most Myanmar practise a different branch of the religion, and officials told him they were there for his protection because radicals may have hurt him over the tattoos.In addition to demanding the couple’s passports, Polley said, six officials repeatedly photographed him and his leg, and one tried to grab him when he stood up."He was the only official who really made things extremely uncomfortable for both of us," Polley said, adding that the others were cordial."I would have gladly fought him right there. In retrospect, I would still want to fight him, even though it would […]