Sri Lanka bans face covering under emergency law

But the top body of Islamic scholars in Sri Lanka, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) are backing the ban for security. The group has asked Muslim women to avoid wearing face veils in the public.

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HIGHLIGHTS:

  • President Maithripala Sirisena said the ban was meant to ensure national security. It applies to anything covering the face including burqas, niqabs, helmets and masks.
  • Harshana Rajakaruna, a MP from the United National Party said she feels the Muslims are happy with the ban.
  • Government banned the National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ) over its ties to Mohammed Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the attacks.

Under emergency law, Sri Lanka has banned face coverings veils. This comes after over 200 people were killed in terrorist attacks at churches and upscale hotels throughout the nation.

President Maithripala Sirisena said the ban was meant to ensure national security and helping authorities to identify people. It applies to anything covering the face including burqas, niqabs, helmets and masks.

An official presidential statement said all sorts of face covers that hinders the identification of individuals in a way that threatens national security shall be banned with effect from 29 April 2019 as per Emergency Regulations. As per the order, the base criterion for identification is the ability to see the face of an individual clearly.

Mixed Reactions to the Ban

However, critics and activists say this violates Muslim women’s right to practice their religion freely’. But the top body of Islamic scholars in Sri Lanka, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) are backing the ban for security. The group has asked Muslim women to avoid wearing face veils in the public.

Sheikh Arkam Nooramith, spokesman of ACJU, said they have asked for more time.

Nooramith said “We have asked that we are given some more time, and whatever concerns that the ministry has with regards to what is possible within religious norms we will guide the Muslim community.”

Harshana Rajakaruna, a MP from the United National Party said she feels the Muslims are happy with the ban. Rajakaruna said “We never had this culture of face veils in Sri Lanka, this is something that has come to our community through influences of the last 10 to 15 years.”

A senior lecturer, Kalana Senaratne said if the ban is motivated by hate then it would have a negative impact especially on the Muslim community in the long term.

He said “Security cannot be enhanced merely by banning the burqa/niqab. It has to be linked to the broader objective of secularisation of the Sri Lankan society, which in turn requires other ethnic and religious groups, including the Sinhala Buddhist majority to rethink and reform their own communities in more progressive and pluralist ways.”

Meanwhile, tensions are running high in the island nation. Security has been enhanced and over 40 suspects have been arrested. Fear of further attacks and possible retaliation against the Sri Lankan Muslims are running high. Authorities have banned the National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ) over its ties to Mohammed Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the attacks. He and others had reportedly pledged their loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out the deadly attacks.

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Sri Lanka bans face covering under emergency law
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But the top body of Islamic scholars in Sri Lanka, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) are backing the ban for security. The group has asked Muslim women to avoid wearing face veils in the public.
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