Last updated on August 16, 2019
With hundreds left dead following the Easter Sunday bombings, any face covering that “hinders the identification of individuals in a way that threatens national security shall be banned,” as stated by Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena.
The emergency law came into effect on Monday, along with the President’s vow to undertake a massive overhaul of the country’s security agencies.
While ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attacks, officials have been advised to heed their statements with caution, as the severity of the attacks hints at foreign support.
When it comes to national security, there are no party differences, religious differences or racial differences between us as Sri Lankans.
What is very important to note, however, is that through the enforcement of the emergency law, religious differences are being taken into consideration. By banning the use of face coverings, the law infringes on the beliefs of the Sri Lankan Muslim population as a whole.
Immediately after the bombing attacks, Muslim communities reported mob threats and attacks against their homes and businesses. Not soon after, the emergency law had taken affect, subsequently banning women from wearing the burqa and niqab: face coverings symbolic of modesty and womanhood in the Islamic faith.
According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Muslims comprise 10% of Sri Lanka’s population; however, worse than a lack of acknowledgement from Sri Lankan majority groups, they have been a consistent target of such aggression. A recent example of this would be the 2018 anti-Muslim riots in Ampara promulgated by Sinhalese Buddhist radicals, amassing two casualties as well as the destruction of 465 houses, businesses, and vehicles.
This event is only one of many in the string of riots against the religious group that had begun in 2012. One can argue that they are playing a large role in radicalizing Sri Lankan Muslims. The recent ban only serves to contribute to the oppression the religious community is facing.
Though not much is confirmed, one thing can be said for certain: the small island nation’s running trend of anti-Muslim sentiment ought to raise concern.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of TheWorker on this issue.