Days after Imran Khan's visit, Sri Lanka likely to ban burqa on grounds of 'national security'

·2-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Colombo [Sri Lanka], March 16 (ANI): Days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka is likely to ban the burqa on grounds of "national security".

Sri Lankan Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekera on Saturday had said that he has signed a directive banning the wearing of the burqa in the country as it is a sign of religious extremism, Colombo Times reported.

"We had a lot of Muslim friends when we were little. But Muslim females did not wear the burqa back then," he had said. Weerasekara had stressed that the burqa is a symbol of religious extremism that garnered attention quite recently. "So, it will definitely be banned."

However, on Tuesday, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry issued a statement on a proposed ban on wearing burqa and niqab in the country, saying that the government is yet to impose a ban and a proposal in this regard is being discussed.

Imran Khan, who claims to be a custodian of the Muslim Ummah, had visited Colombo from February 22 to 24. Days ahead of his visit, Imran Khan's speech was cancelled at the Sri Lankan Parliament as he was likely to raise the Kashmir issue. However, Sri Lanka's decision to cancel his speech was seen as a move by their government to maintain ties with India.

More recently, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak had raised concern over Sri Lanka's announcement on banning the burqa, noting that such a ban would "injure" the feelings of ordinary Muslims in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

Taking to Twitter, High Commissioner Khattak said, "The likely ban on Niqab #SriLanka will only serve as injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. At today's economically difficult time due to pandemic and other image-related challenges faced by the country at international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as a fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country."

The wearing of the burqa in the majority-Buddhist nation was temporarily banned back in 2019 following the bombing of churches and hotels by terrorists that killed more than 250 people.

Earlier this month, Switzerland voted in favour of banning full facial coverings including the niqab and burqa in almost all public places. As many as 51.21 per cent of voters voted in support of the controversial proposal in the referendum. (ANI)

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