The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Catholics, Protestants, Orange Order marches, India, Pakistan and tourism

Catholic and Protestant. Israeli and Palestinian. Indian and Pakistani. Sunderland and Newcastle. What’s the difference?

Well, apart from one of the above, none of these are able to get along harmoniously at any time whatsoever.

And which is the odd one out? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Indians and Pakistanis are the unlikely couple who are able to produce a theatrical masterclass out of their religious differences.

Sadly, the Catholics and Protestants have been failing miserably to demonstrate similar traits during the marching season in Belfast.

What could be a spectacle of pomp and ceremony, colour and noise, ideal for tourist consumption is instead a call to arms for gangs of young men and teenagers to hurl bricks at police and set fire to any vehicle in their path.

Watching the uniformed gangs – in tracksuits, trainers and scarves over their faces – unhappy about the Orange Order marches, I was reminded of the Border Ceremony between India and Pakistan at Wagah.

Everyday both nations’ armies together perform a ritual that attracts thousands of partisan spectators who shriek and cheer as soldiers mock each other.

It’s a riot of fun and excitement that is all the more impressive as these two countries have a long history of problems, politics, dislike and hatred.

How can Northern Ireland, which has so much to offer for visitors, ever hope to achieve a high standing in the tourism industry when its inhabitants burn and riot in parts of Belfast because the other lot are going on a walk?

This is why India and Pakistan can teach us Westerners a lesson in sense and civility.

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All images © Copyright Garry Cook. Do not dare use without permission.

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This entry was posted on July 12, 2011 by in catholic, israel, orange order, pakistan, palestine, protestant, wagah.
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