As Sri Lank’s state of emergency perpetuates, the island’s authorities have imposed a ban on all face coverings, including Muslim veils, in order to help police with identification as they hunt for suspects involved in the April 21 terror bombings.
“The ban is to ensure national security… No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult,” President Maithripala Sirisena’s office stated on Sunday, as reported by India Today. The ban will come into effect on Monday, making no distinction for gender or religion.
The Sri Lankan government informed it enlisted the support of Muslim religious leaders before deciding in favor of the blanket ban, as the clerics asked women to follow this resolution as backlash against the Muslim minority, which constitutes 9.7 percent is a likely threat.
This country-wide prohibition will prevent women from wearing the niqab, which covers all but the eyes, and the burqa, which covers all except a veil across the eye-opening. However, Muslim women will still be permitted to wear the chador or the hijab, which cover the head but not the face.
Sri Lanka has been on high alert since the attacks on Easter Sunday, with nearly 10,000 soldiers deployed across the island to carry out searches and hunt down members of two local Islamist groups believed to have carried out the attack.
Authorities have since detained more than 100 people, including foreigners from Syria and Egypt. Police are also trying to track down 140 people believed to be linked with ISIS.
On April 22, the Sri Lankan government reported that the Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), an offshoot of the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), is believed to be behind the recent bombings of churches and hotels. Yet the Islamic State terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attacks that claimed the life of 359 people.