Akon has made his first public comments since his scheduled concert in Sri Lanka was cancelled due to angry protests over the presence of a Buddha statue in his music video.

“I was not aware that the statue was even on the set of the video until now. I would never set out to offend or desecrate anyone’s religion or religious beliefs,” he said in a statement.

In the clip for “Sexy Chick,” women in bikinis are shown dancing at a pool party with the statue occasionally visible in the background.

Sri Lanka said Wednesday it would not issue Akon a visa for next month’s concert. The video “triggered a lot of disappointment among Buddhists all over the world,” the government said in a statement explaining its reason.

A mob on Monday hurled stones at a private broadcaster that was helping sponsor the event and a “We Hate Akon” page on Facebook had attracted more than 12,000 members by Wednesday evening.

Akon would have been the highest profile international singer to come to this predominately Buddhist, Indian Ocean island since the end of a brutal 25-year civil war last year. His international booking firm, American Talent Agency, said it hoped to reschedule the concert after ensuring the safety of the singer and his fans.

“Akon is looking forward to performing for the people of Sri Lanka and we hope to have this situation resolved in the coming weeks,” the agency said in a statement.

Concert promoter Lasantha Samarasinghe said Wednesday he will ask the government to reconsider its decision, adding that the concert would boost tourism and help the country’s economy.