Sri Lanka’s cabinet has recently approved a proposed ban on full-face burqas in public places due to national security concerns. According to Al-Jazeera, while talking to the media, the cabinet spokesperson said, “the cabinet has approved the proposal. It will now go to the legal draftsmen and then be brought to parliament,”
The approval is unofficial for now but it could easily be passed as the government holds a majority in parliament.
The announcement of the proposal was made last month by the current Cabinet Minister of Public Security, Sarath Weerasekara, stating that, “the burqa is something that directly affects our national security…this [dress] came into Sri Lanka only recently. It is a symbol of their religious extremism.” While the Minister said he had signed the documents outlawing the burqa, the move awaits Cabinet approval. Over 1,000 madrasas would be shut, he added.
In response to this, last month, Pakistani Ambassador Saad Khattak tweeted that a likely ban on the niqab will only serve as injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. At today’s economically difficult time due to pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country”.
This has triggered concern domestically and among international actors. According to reports, this development was in consideration for a long time. The burqa was temporarily banned after the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings, when two local Muslim groups were blamed for the attacks at six locations.
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