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Sri Lanka: Proposed ban on burqas will require time to consider

Sri Lanka: Proposed ban on burqas will require time to consider
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Sri Lanka’s government said on Tuesday that a proposed ban on burqas will require time to consider after an official called the garment a “sign of religious extremism.”

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said at a weekly press conference that the potential ban on the one-piece garb worn by some Muslim women requires additional examination because it’s a crucial decision, according to The Associated Press.  

“It will be done in consultation,” he said. “So, it requires time.”

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Rambukwella’s comments came three days after Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara announced his plan to obtain approval from the Cabinet of Ministers to ban burqas

"The burqa has a direct impact on national security," he said, pledging to “definitely ban it.”

Weerasekara also called for the closure of 1,000 Islamic schools, saying the madrassas have not followed national education policy.

Some leaders have called out the proposed ban, including Pakistan’s ambassador to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak, who said it would “only serve as injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe.”

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The United Nations’ special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, also labeled the proposal as incompatible with international law and the rights of free religious expression, the AP noted.

Roughly 9 percent of Sri Lanka's population is Muslim

It previously restricted burqas following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in 2019 that resulted in more than 260 deaths. Two Muslim groups that had announced loyalty to ISIS took responsibility for the strikes on churches and hotels. 

If approved, Sri Lanka would follow Switzerland, which voted to ban full-face coverings, including burqas, earlier this month, and Denmark, which prohibited full-face coverings in 2018.