It is never a good sign when the name of my country of origin Sri Lanka appears in news headlines in the western media. It usually signifies a major catastrophe (like the tsunami) or a horrific massacre (like during the decades long civil war and insurgency) or somebody doing something really stupid, like Buddhist monks demanding (and succeeding) that the government change the country’s time zone (scroll down) because the country’s ‘spiritual plane’ was out of alignment. (What were the symptoms, I wonder? Headaches? Nausea?)
Naturally, I prefer the third case and yesterday we saw one of those. Three French tourists were arrested and sentenced to six months hard labor in prison for “wounding the religious feelings of Buddhists” by taking photographs of them ‘pretending’ to kiss a Buddha statue. There were no details of how this pretense was staged. I suspect it was using the perspective illusion, similar to photos tourists take of them propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The owner of the studio where the photos were developed alerted the police to this serious crime because Buddhism is the official religion of Sri Lanka and the government panders shamelessly to that religion and there are statues all over the place. The sentences were suspended for five years, which means that the tourists will not actually serve any jail time.
Thus Buddhists were pandered to while the tourist industry was not harmed too much, a win-win, you might say.
(Via Boing Boing)