Sri Lanka to ban burqa, shut 1K Islamic faculties

Colombo, March 13

Sri Lanka will ban the wearing of the burqa and shut more than 1,000 Islamic schools, a government minister said on Saturday, the latest actions affecting the country’s minority Muslim population.

‘Sign of religious extremism’

In our early days, Muslim women and girls never wore burqa. It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. Sarath Weerasekera, public security minister, SL

Minister for public security Sarath Weerasekera told a news conference that he had signed a paper on Friday for cabinet approval to ban the full face covering worn by some Muslim women on “national security” grounds.

“In our early days Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa. It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We are definitely going to ban it,” he said.

The wearing of the burqa in the majority-Buddhist nation was temporarily banned in 2019 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 extremism.

Rajapaksa is accused of widespread rights abuses during the war, charges he denies.

Weerasekera said the government plans to ban more than a 1,000 madrassa 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.

Ex-Jamaat-e-Islami leader held for promoting extremism

A former leader of Islamic organisation Jamaat-e-Islami has been arrested in Sri Lanka for allegedly promoting extremism. Rasheed Hajjul Akbar, who headed the organisation for 24 years until September 2019, was arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Division from Dematagoda area on Friday. — PTI

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