Sri Lanka joins Switzerland in banning the burqa

15 March 2021

Written by: Monica Di Battista

Sri Lankan government announces burqa ban and closure of more than 1,000 Islamic schools.

Sri Lanka have announced they have passed a bill banning the wearing of the burqa and the closure of more than 1,000 Islamic schools.

The Sri Lankan Minister for Public Security Sarath Weerasekera said that he had signed a paper on Friday to ban the full-face covering worn by Muslim women.

“The burqa has a direct impact on national security,” Weerasekara said at a ceremony at a Buddhist temple on Saturday.

According to the minister, it is a sign of religious extremism that has come about in recent times.

The Sri Lankan government also plan to close more than 1,000 Islamic schools, according to Weerasekara, the schools are flouting national education policy as they are not registered with Sri Lankan authorities.

“Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children,” Weerasekara said.

This comes after an order last year which mandated the cremation of COVID-19 victims, which goes against the wishes of Muslims, who bury their dead, prompting accusations of religious discrimination.

The mandate was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the United States and international rights groups.

This is not the first time Sri Lanka has banned the Burqa. In 2019 it was temporarily banned after the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels that killed more than 260 people.

Two local Muslim groups that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group have been blamed for the attacks at six locations — two Roman Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three top hotels.

Sri Lanka’s move to ban the burqa comes days after Switzerland voted to ban women from wearing the burqa in public spaces.

In the referendum, 51% of Swiss voters cast their ballots in favour of the initiative to ban people from covering their face.

A member of Les Foulards Violets, a Muslim feminist collective, Ines Al Shikh has criticised the ban in Switzerland.

“This is clearly an attack against the Muslim community in Switzerland. What is aimed here is to stigmatise and marginalise Muslims even more,” Ines Al Shikh said.

Sri Lanka and Switzerland are following other European countries like France, which banned wearing a full-face veil in public in 2011. Full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public are also in place in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark and the Netherlands.


Photo: Burqa on the Hogeweg by Charles Roffey available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.