Colombo: Sri Lanka has taken a significant step to ban burqa and other face coverings, on grounds of national security. Sarath Weerasekara, Public Security Minister told the BBC that he had signed a cabinet order to ban the full face covering worn by some Muslim women on ‘national security’ grounds which now needs parliamentary nod.
“In our early days Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa. It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We are definitely going to ban it,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters. Officials say they expect the ban to be imposed soon. The move comes two years after a wave of co-ordinated attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday in the country.
In 2019, suicide bombers targeted Catholic churches and tourist hotels, killing more than 250 people in here. The Islamic State militant group also took the responsibility for the attacks. The wearing of the burqa and other face coverings in the majority-Buddhist nation was banned two years back temporarily after the bombing of churches and hotels.
As the authorities traced the militants, an emergency short-term ban on face coverings was imposed here. The ban was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the US and international rights groups. Muslims make up about 9 per cent of the 22 million people here, where Sinhalese Buddhists account for some 75 per cent of the population.