Burqa ban just a 'proposal', Sri Lanka says after criticism from allies

Published March 16, 2021
Sri Lanka said on Tuesday a call to ban the wearing of the burqa was “merely a proposal”, following criticism from regional allies. — Reuters/File
Sri Lanka said on Tuesday a call to ban the wearing of the burqa was “merely a proposal”, following criticism from regional allies. — Reuters/File

Sri Lanka said on Tuesday a call to ban the wearing of the burqa was “merely a proposal”, following criticism from regional allies ahead of a crucial United Nations vote on human rights in the island nation.

Sri Lanka’s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, said on Saturday it would “definitely” ban the full-face covering worn by some Muslim women on national security grounds, pending cabinet approval.

But the foreign ministry said on Tuesday a decision had not yet been taken on what it described as “merely a proposal [...] under discussion”.

“The government will initiate a broader dialogue with all parties concerned and sufficient time will be taken for necessary consultations to be held and for consensus to be reached,” it said in a statement.

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, who said in a tweet on Monday a ban “will only serve as injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe”.

Ahmed Shaheed, a Maldivian diplomat currently serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, said a ban was incompatible with international laws that protect religious belief and freedom of expression.

Several Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, are among the 47 nations that will vote on Sri Lanka’s human rights record at a United Nations session in Geneva next week.

A UN resolution passed against Sri Lanka could allow for prosecutions of government and military officials involved in ending a decades-long civil war in 2009, and 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, which last year criticised a Sri Lankan policy to forcibly cremate coronavirus victims in the country, in violation of the Islamic tradition of burial.

The policy was repealed last month.

Opinion

De-programming the robot
25 Jul 2021

De-programming the robot

The robot that is programmed to be a predator, to dominate, to hurt, to rape, to kill, will do as he pleases, where he pleases...
A toxic discourse
25 Jul 2021

A toxic discourse

Politics as it exists now is a catalyst for further divisions...
Cyberespionage
25 Jul 2021

Cyberespionage

Sellers of surveillance tools must be held accountable...
Managing human agency
24 Jul 2021

Managing human agency

Is the private sector able to manage the ‘human agency’ of teachers better than the public sector?...

Editorial

25 Jul 2021

Noor murder case

IT would not be an exaggeration to describe Pakistan as no country for women. This truth was underscored yet again...
25 Jul 2021

Rental inflation

HOUSE rent prices soared in June by 6.21pc from 4.2pc a year ago, topping the list of 10 contributors to the urban...
Cyberattack on rights
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Cyberattack on rights

A COLLABORATIVE investigation into a data leak of software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group has ...
24 Jul 2021

Sleeper cells

THERE was a time not too long ago when militant groups had unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistan, resulting in...
24 Jul 2021

Prisoners’ return

THE families of 62 Pakistani prisoners who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia had reason to rejoice this Eid as...