Drive to Avoid Black Abayas in Sri Lanka
COLOMBO: A leading Muslim organization in Sri Lanka is conducting a campaign to persuade Muslim women to abjure the black abaya, the loose outer garment worn as a cloak to cover the body from the shoulders to the feet and wear coloured ones in order to make the Islamic sartorial custom acceptable to the Sinhalese majority in the country.
“Bring your black abayas, we will give you coloured abayas,” says an announcement from the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL),a network of Muslim organizations.
“The back abaya and the niqab, the face covering which is less commonly worn, have been creating negative feelings among the majority Sinhalese-Buddhists. When everybody is in black, it gives the impression that we are a uniformed force. And the niqab has raised security concerns,” observed Mohammad Dahalan, Advisor to the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama (ACJU).
One of the main reasons for the anti-Muslim feelings among the majority Sinhalese-Buddhists, which led to devastating riots in Aluthgama and Beruwela in June, is the cultural alienation of the Muslims from the Sinhalese. The Sinhalese feel that the Muslims have wantonly drifted from the general Lankan cultural milieu by adopting Arab culture wholesale. The increasing exclusiveness among Muslims has created fears about a secret dalliance with Islamic terrorism now sweeping the world - a concern expressed many times by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
N M Ameen, President of MCSL said that new abyas are being made. Vice President Hilmy Ahamad said that the distribution will begin in ten days.