SRI Lanka will ban all face coverings including niqabs and burqas in the wake of the Easter suicide bombings that killed 253 people, it was announced last night.
President Maithripala Sirisena used emergency powers to outlaw any form of face covering in public in a bid to help police track down wanted terrorists.
The burqa, which covers the whole head, has been banned in Sri Lanka following Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings[/caption]
The hijab and chador, which don’t cover the face, are exempt from the ban[/caption]
It will mean Muslim women in the country will no longer be allowed to wear some religious head garments.
The niqab, which covers the whole head apart from the eyes, and the burqa, which has a thin veil across the eye opening, will be banned.
But wearers of the hijab and the chador – which leave the face exposed – will be exempt.
The new law comes into force today – a week after some MPs called for their ban.
The ban is to ensure national security… No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult
One politician cited terrorists’ use of the religious coverings to evade police by concealing their identities.
Announcing the ban, President Sirisena’s office said in a statement: “The ban is to ensure national security… No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult.”
ISIS-linked jihadists set off suicide bombs at churches and hotels across the Sri Lankan capital last Easter Sunday – killing 253 people including eight Brits.
Islamic clerics urged female worshippers last week to avoid covering their faces over fears of a public backlash following the atrocities.
Muslims in the majority Buddhist nation account for about 10 per cent of its 21 million population.
A mainly liberal form of the religion is practiced by Sri Lankan muslims and only a small number of female followers wear niqabs or burqas.
HUNT FOR TERRORISTS
Police have arrested dozens of suspects and a shootout at an ISIS bomb factory in the east of the country ended with 15 killed including six children.
But local officials and the US Embassy in Colombo have warned that more militants remained on the loose with explosives.
Days after the bombings, Sri Lankan MP Professor Ashu Marasinghe called for the burqa to be banned to prevent terrorists disguising themselves.
Professor Marasinghe, of the United National Party, said both male and female terrorists have used the burqa in the past while committing atrocities.
Marasinghe also called for the niqab to be outlawed – and vowed to submit a private member’s bill in parliament.
Three officers who were questioning a suspect hours after the initial attacks were killed when a suicide bomb went off.
Female accomplices had escaped from the Dematagoda apartment complex wearing burqas before the blasts went off, according to defence sources.
The effects of the suicide bombings continue to reverberate across the country.
Catholics were yesterday shut out of their churches for fear of new attacks – and left with only a televised Mass.
ISIS claimed as fighters the three militants who blew themselves up on Friday night after exchanging fire with police in the east of the country.
Investigators sifting through that site and others uncovered a bomb-making operation capable of spreading far more destruction.
Police said they had arrested 48 suspects over the last 24 hours as checkpoints mounted by all of Sri Lanka’s security forces sprung up across the country.
Those arrested include two men whom authorities recently appealed to the public to locate.
MOST READ IN WORLD NEWS
The government also warned that it would crack down on those spreading false information and making inflammatory remarks.
Police yesterday entered the main mosque of National Towheed Jamaat on Sunday afternoon – just a day after authorities declared it a terror group.
Authorities banned National Towheed Jamaat over its ties to Mohammed Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the Easter Sunday bombings.
The niqab covers the whole face and head barring the eyes. It has been banned under Sri Lankan law[/caption]
Emotions ran high yesterday as peopled prayed in the street near St Anthony’s Shrine one week on from the attacks that killed over 250 people[/caption]
A police officer inspects the site of a gun battle between troops and suspected Islamist militants on the east coast of Sri Lanka[/caption]
Police in Ampara show explosives, chemicals and the Islamic State flag they recovered during raids[/caption]
Explosives, detonators and other bomb making materials have been recovered[/caption]
Professor Ashu Marasinghe, a Sri Lankan MP, called for the burqa to be banned[/caption]
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at email@example.com or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.