2ND LEAD (Adds details)
Sri Lanka defends Buddhism – against London restaurant
[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 May 2011, 02:25 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Sinhala nationalist constitution - introduced in 1972 in contemptuous dismissal of the protests of the Tamils and their elected leaders - makes it “the duty of the state to protect and foster” Buddhism. This is a responsibility Sri Lanka’s High Commission in Britain apparently takes very seriously: according to a London newspaper, the mission has “whipped up” a campaign against a local Nepalese restaurant, the ‘Greedy Buddha’, whose owner is being bombarded with abusive and aggressive emails and letters, some of which threaten violence.
Restaurant in Fulham, London
The campaign against the restaurant began in February when the Sri Lankan High Commission invited officials from the Thai, Myanmar and Nepal embassies for a "summit" on commercial exploitation of images of Buddha in Britain, the Evening Standard reported Thursday.
According to a High Commission statement, "Embassy officials who attended the meeting agreed to persuade their respective religious and cultural organisations in the UK to write to the owner of the restaurant expressing their concerns."
Since then the restaurant has been bombarded with abusive emails and letters, the Evening Standard, a leading London daily, popular with commuters, said.
The restaurant owner, Mr. Ram Thapa, told the paper: "I've had to stop reading my emails, they are so full of hate and aggression. There have been a few that have been physically threatening. I know it's bothering people but I like the name. My wife is Buddhist and she loves the name.”
Mr. Thapa said with hindsight he could have come up with a different name but he had no plans to change it. "I don't want to be bullied. If I changed the name I would feel they've won."
The Greedy Buddha, located in Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, is popular with celebrities, including popular actress Joanna Lumley, who also became famous in UK after championing the campaign for the same pension rights for retired Gurkhas as other retired British soldiers.
One fan of the restaurant told the Evening Standard: "You would think the Sri Lankan government might have bigger things to worry about than closing this fine little restaurant when it is being investigated by the UN for war crimes."
A food critic in the U.S. commented that the Sri Lankan diplomatic core has a task in its hands to go after the restaurateurs whose increasing fascination with the word "Buddha," are noted in the name of the following eateries:
Laughing Buddha, Manchester, UK
Fat Buddha restaurant, Durham, UK
Buddha's Veggie Restaurant, Calgary, Canada
Big Buddha, Arizona, US
Little buddha, Las Vegas, US
Golden Buddha, Cincinnati, US
Buddha's Belly, California, US
Tasty Buddha, Florida, US