Proposal to ban burqas in public approved by Sri Lankan cabinet

The proposal to ban all kinds of face veils including burqas in public places because of the national threat has been approved.

The approval comes a month after the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution encouraging Sri Lankans to “promote reconciliation, transparency, and human rights.” The resolution raised concerns about Sri Lanka’s policies against the right to freedom of religion, especially against the Muslim community, based on a UN report demanding accountability of parties engaged in violence and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Sarath Weeraskara (Sri Lanka’s Minister of Public Security) has announced the ban in March and said Burqas are a sign of extremism of religion. However, at the time of the announcement, the aforementioned UN resolution had not been voted upon. So, the Sri Lankan government clarified this as a mere proposal and assured that proper consultation with the concerned stakeholders would be done.

To the prior announcement, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed said Banning Burqas are against the international law which guarantees the right to manifest one’s religion or belief and of freedom of expression.

In March 2020, Sri Lankan authorities have targeted the Muslim population by mandating that Covid-19 victims can also be cremated which goes against the Islamic faith. Thus, after facing protest the government lifted the ban this year in February.

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