Sri Lankan minister to push for burqa ban

Colombo, Mar 13 (efe-epa).- A Sri Lankan minister announced Saturday that he had signed a proposal to ban the burqa as part of a national security measure in the island nation.

The proposal from the minister of public security, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, will be submitted to a parliamentary vote.

The Islamic burqa and face veils were temporarily banned in the country under an emergency law soon after the Easter Sunday attacks that killed nearly 270 people and injured hundreds more in 2019.

A local Islamist extremist group inspired by the ISIS was found to be behind the coordinated attacks.

“It is a symbol of religious extremism that came into the country recently. Therefore, we are defiantly banning it,” Weerasekara said during a meeting in the country’s Western Province Saturday.

Muslim community activists in Sri Lanka consider the proposal to be a political attack designed to rile up voters ahead of elections.

“Whenever there is an election it is the Muslim community that has to pay the price,” human rights activist Shreen Saroor told EFE.

She added that the issue was that there was no community consultation and the government was going ahead with what it wants.

“This also comes at a time where all of us are wearing face masks. They say it is for national security. Then what about the masks? How can anyone justify this?” she said.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued an official message Saturday calling for the rehabilitation of people arrested on charges of extremist activities.EFE-EPA

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