Following the Easter Sunday bombing that resulted in the killing of at least 253 people in Sri Lanka, the country has banned its citizens from wearing face coverings under emergency law.
President Maithripala Sirisena said the ban was meant to ensure national security, helping authorities to identify people.
Naija News recalls that hundreds of persons were killed while several others sustained various degrees of injuries after multiple explosions at three luxury hotels frequented by foreigners and three churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, as well as Negombo, to the north, and Batticaloa, to the east in the wake of Easter Sunday.
He did not specifically mention the niqab and burka, types of facial coverings worn by Muslim women across the world, but critics say the new measure violates their rights.
Amid heightened safety concerns, a body of Islamic scholars in Sri Lanka advised last week that Muslim women “should not hinder the security forces in their efforts to maintain national security by wearing the face cover (Niqab).”
The National Public Radio reports that the government’s face-covering ban took effect yesterday, days after a violent raid that was linked to the investigation of the Easter Sunday bombings.
Authorities blamed the bombings on National Thowfeek Jamaath, a Muslim militant group that previously vandalized Buddhist statues in the majority Buddhist country. Sri Lanka was not seen as a hotbed for radical Islamist activity before the Easter attacks.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings last week, triggering fears of further violence the terrorist group might inspire. Sri Lankan authorities have arrested dozens of suspects and are searching for more militants with suspected links to ISIS.
The terrorist attacks have exacerbated a rivalry between Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister, who belong to different political parties. In 2018, the president ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe because of an alleged assassination attempt before later reappointing him.
Meanwhile, Muslims In Sri Lanka Are Worried About Backlash After Sunday’s Easter Attacks.
Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, has promised to enact new legislation to combat terrorism, saying, “Sri Lanka does not have any laws to arrest individuals who join foreign terrorist organizations,” according to the country’s state news agency.
Meanwhile, some top officials have been replaced since the bombings. Former Army Commander General S. H. Shantha Kottegoda was appointed as the new secretary to the Ministry of Defense on Monday after the president requested former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resign.