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The authorities are sensitive to insults to Buddhism, the religion of the island's majority ethnic Sinhalese.
The BBC said a Sri Lankan immigration official said the man spoke "very disrespectfully" when asked about his tattoo of the Buddha on his arm.
"If he expressed such views after entering the country, it would have been a threat to his own safety," the immigration worker told the daily Lankadeepa Sinhalese, according to AFP.
According to the BBC, Sri Lankan authorities are sensitive to perceived threats or insults to Buddhism, which is practiced by the nation's majority ethnic Sinhalese.
Other foreigners has been denied entry on similar grounds.
Three years ago, US R&B star Akon was refused a visa after his video, showing "scantily-clad" women dancing near a Buddha statue, drew protests in the country.