“Part of Islamophobic reaction,” criticism against Sri Lankan govt over burqa ban and shutdown of Madrassas

Sri Lanka has announced plans to ban the wearing of burqas and said it would close more than 1,000 Madrassas, citing national security, Associated Press reported.

The minister of public security, Sarath Weerasekara had signed a paper on Friday seeking the approval of the cabinet of ministers to ban burkas.

“The burqa has a direct impact on national security. It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We will definitely ban it,” Weerasekara said while attending a ceremony at a Buddhist temple on Saturday.

“It’s part of the Islamophobic reaction in Sri Lanka. The compulsory cremation policy was revised, and now we hear so many other measures to some form of punishing the Muslim community,” Al Jazeera quoted Shreen Saroor, a Sri Lankan peace and women’s rights activist as saying.

Muslims make up about 9% of the 22 million people in Sri Lanka. The decision to ban burqas and Madrassas is the latest move affecting the Indian Ocean island nation’s minority Muslims.

Months ago, Lanka government has issued a controversial order mandating the cremation of COVID-19 victims – against the wishes of Muslims, who bury their dead. This ban was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the United States and international rights groups.