Sri Lanka Announces Plan To Ban Burqa And Close More Than 1,000 Islamic Schools

Sri Lanka Announces Plan To Ban Burqa And Close More Than 1,000 Islamic Schools. image: Pexels

Sri Lanka Announces Plan To Ban Burqa And Close More Than 1,000 Islamic Schools.

Sri Lanka’s government has announced plans to ban the wearing of burqas and close more than 1,000 Islamic schools citing threats to “national security”.

The south Asian country’s minister of public security, Sarath Weerasekara, confirmed he signed a paper on Friday, March 12, with the aim of obtaining the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers to ban the piece of clothing.

Burqas are outer garments worn by some Muslim women that cover the body and face. On Saturday, Mr Weerasekara told a ceremony at a Buddhist temple: “The burqa has a direct impact on national security. In our early days, we had a lot of Muslim friends, but Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa,” Mr Weerasekara said, according to a video shared by his ministry.

“It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We will definitely ban it.”

Wearing the religious garment was temporarily banned in Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels in 2019, which left more than 260 people dead. Two local Muslim groups that had pledged allegiance to Isis have been blamed for the attacks across six locations – two Roman Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three top hotels.

Mr Weerasekara also said the government will ban more than 1,000 Islamic schools, also known as madrassas, saying they are not registered with the authorities and do not follow the national education policy. Banning burqas and madrassas would be the latest measures affecting the Indian Ocean island nation’s minority Muslims.

Those who follow Islam make up about 9 per cent of the 22 million people in the country, where Buddhists account for more than 70 per cent of the population. Ethnic minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus, comprise about 15 per cent of the population.

A controversial ban on wearing face-masking garments in public, widely referred to as the ‘burqa ban’, came into effect in Denmark on August 1st last year. Critics said that the ban infringed religious freedom – something Denmark’s constitution guarantees – and Amnesty International in 2018 condemned the law as a “discriminatory violation of women’s rights”, especially against Muslim women who choose to wear full-face veils.

Related: Switzerland Set To Approve ‘Burqa Ban’ On Sunday

 


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Tony Winterburn

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