Government defends move to ban burqa and niqab

By Easwaran Rutnam

The Government today defended a move to ban the burqa and niqab saying its an internal security matter.

Cabinet co-spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella said that the Government will not rush through the process to ban the face coverings.

“It will be done in consultation and after reaching a consensus,” the Minister said at the post Cabinet press conference today.

Rambukwella said that following the Easter Sunday attacks the matter was extensively discussed.

He said that the move to ban the burqa and niqab is being considered based on the advise of intelligence agencies.

Asked if the move will affect Sri Lanka’s relationship with Muslim countries and add to the pressure on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Rambukwella said that the proposed ban cannot be linked to Geneva.

Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera had said earlier that Sri Lanka is to ban the niqab and burqa.

Weerasekera told Colombo Gazette that a Cabinet paper prepared and signed by him to ban the wearing of face veils in Sri Lanka includes both the niqab and the burqa.

The niqab covers the face of the wearer except the eyes, while the burqa covers the entire face of the wearer from onlookers, including the eyes.

Minister Weerasekera said the Cabinet paper that has been signed bans the wearing of face veils that cover the face of the wearer and hence includes both.

He said therefore, a decision was taken to ban both the niqab and burqa over national security concerns.

The Minister further said however, the hijab will not be banned as it reveals the face of the wearer and poses no threat. (Colombo Gazette)