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Do not go out on May Day, seriously. Unless you like to watch large crowds of dehydrated, sweating, yelling people, or like to catch up on your reading in your car, in the sun, on the street.

I do not remember May Days being this crowded in the past. Bus loads of people came into Colombo just to take part in the rallies, and 10,000 policemen were deployed to keep the peace. I had assumed that May Day was labour day and all about the worker. But what I saw was a lot of political bickering, a lot of anger, and a lot of hate directed towards the international community. I didn’t hear much about local working conditions, the prices rising, the economic situation, or anything local. It could have just been the rally that I saw though.

The placards and signs they were holding up were mostly about the US and how they should leave Syria and Iran alone. (I didn’t know we were best buddies with them) Also were placards about how Sri Lanka rejects the UN resolutions, and ‘Banki and Obama’.

The float in the picture above had a bed on in covered with a sheet, with two people in scrubs surrounding it. The ‘doctors’ had a sign on their back saying NGO and under the sheet I saw what looked like a tiger skin. I suppose it meant that the NGOs were trying to revive the LTTE?

Another section of the rally (which I couldn’t take a picture of) had a man in a blazer and a pair of shorts with a mask of Obama on his head. He was being herded by two men holding spears and dressed in black. Their costumes looked remarkably like that used by the KKK, but in black.  I am not sure that was intended, but then again, who knows.

It’s a masterful move by the government, directing anger towards people outside the country and towards NGO. Now the war is over, we don’t have anyone to fight and we have time to look at the mess in our own country. But what’s being said is, “look, America is trying to get us, the UN is trying to get us, unite!” and so we start yelling like a bunch of scared kids not looking at the mess in our own backyard.

But as they say, “Wot to do, child?”

Foreign Policy’s May/June issue is a…. fiery one. It focuses on sex, which in itself is not a big deal (see the countless ‘women’s’ mags out there). But this is about sex and the Muslim world. It’s about Muslim women and the repression they are under. It’s about hate, and about sorrow and about a call for change. Some of the articles are very personal and very moving, especially ‘Why Do They Hate Us’ by Mona EltaHawy.

I hesitate to weigh in on the issue of women in Islam, mostly for the backlash it draws. Now the criticism wouldn’t really bother me if it were only from men, but a good part of it is from Muslim women as well. Approximately 23% of the world population is Muslim, and half of that (obviously) are women. Now even taking into consideration the different types/divisions of Islam, it follows that the way women are dealt with in Islam is perpetuated in part by the women in Islam itself. So me, being a non-Muslim male, speaking out about women’s rights in Islam is often met with scorn. And you know what ol’ Shakespeare says about a woman’s scorn.

Mona EltaHawy on the other hand is an Egyptian-American female journalist, which makes her perfect to address the issue of sex, and women in the ME. And man, she is intense. The articles are beautiful, but what bothers me about it are the pictorials used to represent the articles.

The pictures are of a female model nude, and painted black to resemble a burkha.  I have written about sexualisation before, and the problem with Western media and their idea of sex/freedom is that they identify it with nudity. Sex is not about nudity. Freedom is not about nudity. Expression is not about nudity. Being modest and dressing modestly is not repression but rather a cultural trait which is admirable. So the pictures of the nude model are rather offensive and frankly insulting. It is akin to a body painting of a nun, or a priest, or a Jew.

It is like burning down the yard to get at the weeds. A little bit of cultural awareness hurt no one.

I admit that there are many methods to DDR, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how a fashion show can be part of it. 384 ex-LTTE were released on the 28th and the ‘highlight’ of that release was a fashion show!

He said that the highlight of today’s release of 384 ex-LTTE combatants to their kith and kin by the Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Chandrasiri Gajadheera, at the Ramakrishna Hall in Wellawatte at 4.00 p.m. would be the fashion show by the ex-LTTE female combatants.

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Reintegrating former soldiers into society is not an easy thing. There is trauma, there is hurt, there is hate, and you force them to strut around in front of the very people they were fighting? It boggles the mind. Is there really so little sensitivity and common sense in the authorities here?

There is a huge fuss about a US backed UN resolution that aims to pressure Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations in LLRC. Nationalists everywhere are up in arms about how the US is trying to take over Sri Lanka and place their own people in charge of the country etc etc. It’s funny because the LLRC is a Sri Lankan body mandated by the Sri Lankan government to give recommendations to Sri Lanka. So, SRI LANKA Y U NO LISTEN TO YOURSELF?

But all this fuss is a wonderful opportunity to divert attention away from the price hikes and protests against the government. Smokescreen anyone?

Ten points to consider in case you have trouble choosing where to cast your vote:

1. Check the number relatives he has, that’s the number of key posts that will no longer be available after the elections.

2. Does he have a tendency towards personal branding, attaching his name to policy or wearing certain pieces of distinctive clothing all the time?

3. The more nationalist the candidate’s speeches are the more power he will amass in the name of nationalism.

4. Check how many campaign promises he changes in a week.

5. Does he think that no minorities exist in Sri Lanka?

6. Does he suffer from a paranoia that the international community is out to get him?

7. Does he have tea parties with dictators?

8. Do journalists break out in a sweat when they hear his name?

9. Does he have any previous experience in politics?

10. Is his first solution to any issue military?

Yes, yes, I know. You are screwed no matter who wins.

Its a strange turn of events it is. These Europeans can be might strange sometimes. We all know they love Obama, and many many other people love him too, but the Nobel Peace Prize? Now? A leeeetle bit premature I think.

The committee thought to help Obama’s image/clout with this prize but instead what they are doing is hindering his work, making him out to be a showman rather than a man with solid intentions and serious goals.

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