‘Racist agenda’: Fear, problems in excess of Sri Lanka’s burqa ban | Religion News

Sri Lanka’s move to ban the burqa on “national security” grounds though contacting its use “religious extremism” has been termed a “racist agenda” utilised to cause divisions in the place.

A burqa is an outer garment worn to go over the full physique and the face and is made use of by some Muslim girls.

On Saturday, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Public Protection Sarath Weerasekera mentioned he experienced signed a paper for cupboard approval to ban the burqa, including that the authorities also programs to ban far more than 1,000 Islamic educational facilities that were defying nationwide training plan.

Sri Lankans expressed disapproval of the proposal, with several viewing the act as an endeavor to appease Sri Lanka’s Buddhist the greater part and lead to divisions.

Sri Lankan ethnic Muslim ladies wait in a queue for the COVID-19 blood examination in Colombo, Sri Lanka [Chamila Karunarathne/EPA]

“This is a racist agenda,” Hilmy Ahamed, vice-president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, advised Al Jazeera. “They are trying to convince the Buddhists that they are going soon after Muslims.”

Sinhalese Buddhists account for about 75 percent of the country’s 22 million people with Muslims creating up about 9 p.c. Ethnic minority Tamils, who are largely Hindus, make up to about 15 %.

The signed files outlawing the burqa were submitted on Friday, in accordance to Weerasekera. The proposal necessitates the acceptance of the Cupboard and Parliament, where by the government has a two-thirds bulk, in advance of it gets regulation.

“The burqa has a immediate influence on countrywide stability,” Weerasekara advised a ceremony at a Buddhist temple on Saturday. “It is a signal of spiritual extremism that arrived about lately. We will definitely ban it.”

Weerasekera’s announcement came a couple of weeks forward of the second anniversary of the 2019 Easter attacks on 3 churches and a few luxurious hotels in the region that killed at the very least 269 individuals.

Two area Muslim teams that had pledged allegiance to the ISIL (ISIS) team had been blamed for the attacks.

“It [wearing a burqa] ought to be considered a suitable of a girls to choose,” included Ahamed.

“They forcibly cremated more than 350 Muslims [COVID-19 deaths] against their spiritual perception and now they want to ban madrasas and burqa. Will the exact same scrutiny be there on Christian and Buddhist education which serves the exact function as madarasas to educate theologians.”

In March very last calendar year, the government imposed rules that mentioned the bodies of COVID-19 victims could only be cremated. The guidelines banned burial, declaring the virus could distribute by contaminating groundwater.

This ban was lifted very last thirty day period just after criticism from international rights teams throughout the globe and months of protests mostly by Muslim teams.

Vraie Cally Balthazaar, a gender activist dependent in the capital, Colombo, claimed the transfer will affect the life of Muslims in the state immediately after the govt mandated the cremation of COVID-19 victims.


“I do not feel anyone building selections on the burqa are undertaking it with the intention of nationwide protection or keeping the rights of women of all ages in intellect. I consider the burqa has develop into a symbol of a electricity struggle that the point out would like to control,” Balthazaar told Al Jazeera.

“Having dealt with the cremation challenge, we now have to encounter this. This is influencing the lives of Muslims, particularly women of all ages, in the country.”

‘Public recognition on what burqa is’

The burqa was briefly banned soon after the 2019 bombings, drawing a mixed reaction with activists saying it “violated Muslim women’s proper to practise their faith freely”.

Jamila Husain, a journalist centered in Colombo, reported there wants to be “public recognition on what the burqa genuinely is”.

“Not a lot of people today, other than Muslims, know the variation between a burqa, hijab and niqab. Absence of right awareness could guide to discrimination or focusing on of Muslim gals,” Husain instructed Al Jazeera.

“After the Easter Sunday assaults when the burqa was quickly banned, Muslim women even masking their experience or head with a shawl ended up abused or threatened since some non-Muslims assumed covering the head was banned. So there requires to be correct awareness prior to this is designed legislation.”

Past thirty day period, Sri Lanka was called by the United Nations Human Rights Council to keep human rights abusers to account and to deliver justice to victims of its 26-calendar year-outdated civil war, which include in excess of their remedy of Muslims.