“A call to ban the burqa in Sri Lanka is only a proposal.” The statement comes from Sri Lanka after criticism from allies before a UN vote on human rights.
Minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, said it would “definitely” ban the full-face covering worn by some Muslim women. Why? citing national security grounds, pending cabinet approval.
Meanwhile, its foreign ministry said a decision had not yet been taken and it is “merely a proposal”.
“The government will initiate a broader dialogue with all parties concerned. Sufficient time will be taken for necessary consultations to be held and for consensus to be reached.”
Criticism from Pakistan & Bangladesh
Muslims make up around a tenth of the population in majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka.
The statement follows criticism from Pakistan’s ambassador to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak. He said in a tweet a ban “will only serve as injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe”.
Ahmed Shaheed is a Maldivian diplomat. He said a ban was incompatible with international laws that protect religious beliefs and freedom of expression.
Several Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, are among the 47 nations. They will vote on Sri Lanka’s human rights record at a United Nations session in Geneva next week.
A UN resolution against Sri Lanka could allow for prosecutions of officials involved in ending the 2009 civil war. Colombo is sensitive to anything that may impact voting there, according to a person familiar with the developments.
Almost a third of the 47 nations are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It slammed a Sri Lankan policy to cremate coronavirus victims against the Islamic tradition of burial. However, Sri Lanka later dropped the policy.
Meanwhile, recently, a proposal to ban facial coverings in Switzerland won a victory in a referendum. Moreover, the ban is supported by the group that organized a 2009 ban on new minarets. In 2017, Austria asked Muslim women to uncover their faces. Earlier, China had banned burqas in Xinjiang.