The Minister of Public Security has announced Sri Lanka will ban the wearing of the burka and order more than a thousand Islamic schools closed, a government minister said on Saturday. The latest actions affecting Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim population.
Minister Sarath Weerasekera told a news conference he had signed a paper on Friday for cabinet approval to ban the full face covering worn by some Muslim women over “national security” concerns.
He said “In our early days Muslim women and girls never wore the burka.” “It is a sign of Islamic extremism that came about recently. We are definitely going to ban it.”
The wearing of the burka in the majority-Buddhist nation was temporarily banned in 2019. The ban came after the bombing of churches and hotels by Islamic militants that killed more than 250.
Later that year, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, best known for crushing a decades-long insurgency in the north of the country as defence secretary, was elected president after promising a crackdown on Islamic extremism.
Rajapaksa is accused of widespread rights abuses during the war, charges he denies.
Weerasekera said the government plans to ban more than a thousand madrasa Islamic schools that he said were flouting national education policy.
“Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children,” he said.
The government’s moves on burkas and schools follow an order last year mandating the cremation of Covid-19 victims – against the wishes of Muslims, who bury their dead.
This ban was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the United States and international rights groups.