The government of Sri Lanka on Tuesday said that banning burqa and face-covering in the country was “merely a proposal”, earlier announced as a ban.
On Saturday, March 13, Sri Lanka’s minister for public security said it would “definitely” outlaw the burqas worn by Muslim women.
The statement issued in this regard stated: “The government will initiate a broader dialogue with all parties concerned and sufficient time will be taken for necessary consultations to be held and for consensus to be reached.”
“In our early days, Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa, but recently we have seen it as a sign of ‘religious extremism’ and we are definitely going to ban it,” the Minister of Public Safety, Sarath Weerasekera said.
Seems like this move by Sri Lanka follows France, Belgium and Austria after a less voting margin to ban women from wearing the burqa in public.
Back in 2019, the wearing of burqas was temporarily banned in the Buddhist-majority country after militants blew up churches and hotels.
Later that year, as secretary of defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, known for ending decades of insurgency in the northern part of the country, was elected president after promising to crack down on militancy.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been accused of widespread human rights abuses during the war but has denied the allegations.
Sarath Weerasekera said the government also intends to ban more than a thousand Islamic schools, which he said violated national education policy.
“No one can open a school and teach children whatever they want,” he said.
It should be noted that the government’s plan to ban burqas and Islamic schools came after an order was issued last year calling for the cremation of Muslims who died under COVID-19.
However, the ban was lifted this year after strong criticism from the United States and international human rights groups.
Furthermore, Few Muslim-majority countries will vote for Sri Lanka’s human rights record at a United Nations (UN) session in Geneva, set to take place next week.