The proposal: Sri Lanka’s cabinet approved a controversial proposal to ban all forms of full-face veils, including Muslim burqas in public citing security concerns. This proposal has come to cabinet despite the United Nation’s comment of it violating international humanitarian laws. The proposal was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday by Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekera. The proposal has been sent to the Attorney General’s office from where it must be approved by parliament to become law.
Background: The move comes after the minister signed a note pending approval by cabinet to ban burqas. The decision has been taken two years after a series of coordinated terrorists attacks by Islamic extremists during the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks on hotels and churches. The two groups held responsible for the attacks had pledged allegiance to ISIL, who targeted three churches and 3 hotels.
Reaction: The UN special report on freedom of religion has stated that this law is incompatible with international law and a right to free expression of religion. Furthermore, last month Pakistani ambassador to Sri Lanka Saad Khattak said that this ban would hurt the feelings of Muslims.
Criticism: The move has been criticized by Muslims and leaders across the globe. They have called the move not only a crime against freedom of religious expression, but also hypocritical in the age of ‘face masks’ which are mandatory by the government.