The Sri Lanka government has issued a decree banning burqa and any other garment that covers the face in Sri Lanka, following the Easter attacks that had taken the world by storm.
“Wearing garments that cover the face completely will be banned from tomorrow, to ensure public safety," the presidential decree reads.
A probe has also revealed that the burqa wasn't technically a part of the traditional attire of women residing in Sri Lanka till extremist groups insisted on it back in the 1990s. The government is currently consulting with mosque authorities for the same.
According to reports, there has been a significant rise in the number of terror attacks where terrorists have used the niqab or the burqa as a method of disguise. This, as a consequence, has led to a phenomenon known as the "burqaphobe."
Around the world, there have often been cries for banning the burqa, on grounds that it leads to marginalization or isolation of Muslim women. Some have even claimed that it stands in the way of integration of Muslim women into society. In some places, the burqa is believed to contribute to security problems. In fact, in our own country in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, instances of "burqaphobe" have been witnessed. A BJP MLA had alleged that burqa clad women were indulging in fake voting in the Amroha district, although these charges were denied by the district magistrate.
Let us remind you, this is simply a product of communal hatred and Islamophobia that has become deeply ingrained in the minds of people.
For example, in the case of France, the use of any garment that fully covers the face has been banned since 2011. When the motion was proposed by the France government, the public unanimously agreed with it. France claims to be a secular country where religion is considered to be a private matter, where each individual has the right to practice any religion of their choice, in any way they deem fit.
Unfortunately, this is not restricted to France. UK Independence Party leader Paul Nuttall had called for a ban on the burqa, claiming that it made impossible for CCTVs to identify the women. However, an enquiry by Channel 4 showed otherwise. It revealed that based on statistical evidence, burqas had the same impact on CCTVs as large hats or hoodies.
Then why the discrimination?
In simple terms, banning the burqa is NOT a responsible or a justified solution to terrorism. This is simply because the number of women partaking in such terrorist activities is far less as compared to men. Of course, there have been numerous incidents of men using the burqa as a disguise, but even that's rare.
Leaving aside statistics, it has to be remembered that the decision to wear the burqa or not is a personal one. One may raise objections on a number of grounds, even claim that it keeps Muslim women in shackles. But the truth remains, it is a personal choice and must be respected. Moreover, the Sri Lanka government is pursuing the ban on burqas, but does this guarantee a terrorism-free country in the future? No.
Also, while one is entitled to personal opinions, one cannot really ban everything one opposes to.
Moreover, one must take into account the aftermath of imposing such a ban as well. According to Washington Post, the ban in France took a negative toll on the lives of Muslim women. While the ban was supported since it apparently encouraged Muslim women to better fit in with the rest of the women, stats show that Muslim women who wore a niqab chose not to step out after the ban was declared.
In other words, such a ban is an attack on their personal liberation and only further clipped their wings.