20 September, 2020

Friendly Ties

Friendly Ties
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The information ministry’s attentive protocol team was largely made up of women. Many, but not all, wore Islamic headscarves. The Maldives is among the most uniformly Islamic nations in the world. The prohibition on other religions extends even to forbidding Sinhalese labourers from carrying Buddhist icons. Islamic radicalism is said to be on the increase—the government has pointed the finger at ‘foreign’ clerics. But the streets of Male bear a relaxed air. Although the political leadership is overwhelmingly male, women have managed to carve out space in public life.

It was one of these women minders who warned me that I would be on the podium for the President’s keynote speech. The message was unstated but clear—could I please dress accordingly. But how many people would pack a tie for a trip to the Maldives? Happily, Javed Jabbar, twice Pakistan’s information minister and another conference participant, is a wiser man than me. With minutes to spare, he lent me a splendid sky blue tie. It may have clashed with my salmon pink shirt. But at least I was not naked...

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