STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Sri Lankan government will not rush through process to ban burqas: Cabinet Spokesman

Muslims make up about 9% of the 22 million people in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists account for more than 70% of the population.

Published: 16th March 2021 01:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2021 01:18 PM   |  A+A-

A burqa clad Sri Lankan Muslim woman walks in a street of Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Photo | AP)

A burqa clad Sri Lankan Muslim woman walks in a street of Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government will not rush through the process to ban burqas and the decision on the issue would be taken after reaching a consensus, a senior minister said on Tuesday.

The Cabinet spokesman's remarks came a day after Pakistan's envoy to Colombo Saad Khattak criticised the Sri Lankan government's plan to ban the wearing of burqas in the country, saying such "divisive steps" in the name of security will not only hurt the sentiments of Muslims but also strengthen wider apprehensions about the fundamental human rights of minorities in the island nation.

Sri Lanka's Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Monday did not take up the issue of imposing a ban on Niqab.

“It will be done in consultation and after reaching a consensus," Cabinet spokesman and senior minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters on Tuesday.

He said that the government “will not rush through the process to ban face coverings”.

Any decision would be followed depending on intelligence assessment in terms of national security considerations, the minister said.

The Public Security minister Sarath Weerasekera announced over the weekend that he had signed a Cabinet paper proposing the ban on Niqab.

The paper was expected to be taken up at Monday's Cabinet meeting.

Weerasekera said the burqa had posed a threat to national security.

Asked if the government was stalling the decision on the issue due to the ongoing sessions at the UN Human Rights Council, Rambukwella said "there was no such thing".

Sri Lanka is seeking the support of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

The Buddhist-majority nation in 2019 had temporarily banned the wearing of burqas under emergency regulations following the Easter Sunday attacks in which nine suicide bombers belonging to the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels, killing 270 people, including 11 Indians, and injuring over 500.

The Lankan government last year had also made the cremation of COVID-19 victims mandatory, citing health concerns.

It cited the opinion of some experts who claimed that the burial of COVID-19 victims would contaminate the water table, thereby spreading the pandemic further.

The cremation of bodies is forbidden in Islam and Christianity.

Amidst mounting international criticism, including from Pakistan, the government revised its policy last month.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had also raised the issue during his visit to Colombo last month.

Muslims make up about 9 per cent of the 22 million people in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists account for more than 70 per cent of the population.

Ethnic minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus, comprise about 12 per cent, while Christians account for over 7 per cent of the population.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp