In a major development on Friday (March 12), the government of Sri Lanka has decided to crack down on the wearing of the burqa and the functioning of unregistered Islamic schools (madrassas) in the country.
As per reports, Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara signed an order that sought Cabinet approval to ban Burqas. His signed order is now awaiting the approval of Parliament. On Saturday, Weerasekara emphasised, “The burqa has a direct impact on national security…In our early days, we had a lot of Muslim friends, but Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa. It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We will definitely ban it.”
The move comes two years after the burqa was temporarily banned in the aftermath of the deadly bombings in 2 Roman Catholic churches, 1 Protestant church and 3 hotels in Sri Lanka, on the occasion of Easter. The terror attacks, executed by two Islamist outfits, claimed 260 innocent lives. Sri Lankan officials have informed that the ban on burqa, which is likely to be permanent this time, will be implemented soon.
Sri Lankan government to shut down unregistered Madrassa
He also informed that the Sri Lankan government will close down more than 1000 madrassas in the country that are operating without any valid registration and do not adhere to the national education policy. “Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children. It must be as per the government laid down education policy,” he added. The Public Security Minister emphasised that the unregistered Madrassas taught only Quran and Arabic language and that it was ‘bad for the students.
Muslim Council of Sri Lanka suggests that wearing face cover is a ‘right’
While speaking about the development, Muslim Council Vice-President Hilmi Ahmed said that if the government was facing issues to identify people due to their face cover, then, such individuals can remove face cover for identification. He further said that every individual has the right to wear a face cover. “That has to be seen from a rights point of view, and not just a religious point of view,” he added.
Ahmed also claimed that all Madrassas, with the exception of 5% schools, have registered with the government. Interestingly, he welcomed the decision of the government to crack down on such madrassas that do not adhere to the governmental rules. It must be mentioned that Muslims constitute 9% of the total population in the country.
Switzerland: People vote to ban burqa or niqab in public spaces
On March 7, during the referendum, 51% of the voters in Switzerland cast their vote favouring banning people from covering their faces completely in shops, restaurants and streets. However, full facial veils will be allowed inside places of worship and for ‘native customs’.
The final results on Sunday showed that out of 26 cantons in the country, just six rejected the initiative. The turnaround was a little over 50% which is above average. Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that only a fraction of the Muslim women population wears such veils in Switzerland. The proposal was introduced by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP). They campaigned for the proposals with slogans like “Stop Extremism.”