Sri Lanka to ban burqa, shut many Islamic schools, minister says | Inquirer News
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Sri Lanka to ban burqa, shut many Islamic schools, minister says

/ 12:57 PM March 14, 2021

FILE PHOTO: A salesman shows a full face veil, niqab, at a shop selling various kinds of coverings worn by Muslim women in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 29, 2019. Photo by REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka will ban the wearing of the burqa and shut more than a thousand Islamic schools, a government minister said on Saturday, the latest actions affecting the country’s minority Muslim population.

Minister for public security Sarath Weerasekera told a news conference he had signed a paper on Friday for cabinet approval to ban the full face covering worn by some Muslim women on “national security” grounds.

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“In our early days Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa,” he said. “It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We are definitely going to ban it.”

The wearing of the burqa in the majority-Buddhist nation was temporarily banned in 2019 after the bombing of churches and hotels by Islamic militants that killed more than 250.

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Later that year, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, best known for crushing a decades-long insurgency in the north of the country as defense secretary, was elected president after promising a crackdown on extremism.

Rajapaksa is accused of widespread rights abuses during the war, charges he denies.

Weerasekera said the government plans to ban more than a thousand madrassa Islamic schools that he said were flouting national education policy.

“Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children,” he said.

The government’s moves on burqas and schools follow an order last year mandating the cremation of COVID-19 victims – against the wishes of Muslims, who bury their dead.

This ban was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the United States and international rights groups.

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TAGS: burqa, Islam, Security, Sri Lanka
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