Sri Lanka approves proposal for burqa ban in public

The present Sri Lankan government on Tuesday cleared a proposal banning all forms of full-face veils, including burqas in public citing the reason to be related to “national security concerns”, despite a UN’s expert comment that it would violate international laws.  

The proposal was drafted and announced in March by Sarath Weerasekara, Minister of Public Security. It was approved in a weekly meeting as informed by Weersekara on his Facebook page. However, in March the government defended the proposal saying that it was only a proposal and there is no intention of going ahead with it in a hurry. 

Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told the weekly media conference that the Cabinet has approved the proposal and it will now go to the legal draftsmen and ultimately will be brought to parliament. 

The proposal will now be sent to the attorney general and for it to become law it must be approved by the parliament, which according to various claims will not be a difficult move as the proposing party occupies a majority in the parliament. 

Not following the law is likely to invite 7 years of imprisonment and/or discontinuation of citizenship. 

Déjà vu?

Weerasekara has called burqas, a sign of religious extremism and he went on to say that it would improve national security. Sri Lanka had previously also banned the wearing of the burqa back in 2019. The temporary ban came after the Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed more than 260 people. 

The attack was blamed on two local Muslim extremist groups and their alleged alliance with the Islamic State group. They were blamed for attacks at six locations including two Roman Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three hotels. 

Reactions

Muslims make up about 9% of Sri Lanka’s 22 million citizens. The proposed ban on face veils, seen as targeting the burqa worn by Muslim women, triggered a lot of people domestically and internationally. Pakistani envoy in Colombo, Saad Khattak said that this would hurt the feeling of Muslims. 

Here are some of the reactions from Netizens: 

Other Countries

Some of the other countries that have banned the burqa include France, Belgium, Netherlands, Bulgaria, and more. Having face coverings in public a punishable offense under the law in these countries. Violations are usually met with fines and imprisonment. 

There are currently 17 countries that have banned the burqa. 

These decisions are usually heavily criticised by different communities for various reasons. Some believe that this violation of a particular religion. Some also believe that this takes away a women’s right to choose and practice as per her own likes. 

There are claims that such laws not only harm the image of a particular religion but also make them vulnerable to crimes against their community. 

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