A week after Islamic militants carried out deadly blasts that killed more than 250 people, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday announced a ban on covering of the face that would make identification difficult.
“The ban is to ensure national security… No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult,” Sirisena said in a statement. The ban will be effective from Monday.
The President, in his official statement, said he was using his emergency powers to ban any form of covering of the face in public.
The move came days after local Muslim clerics urged their women not to cover their faces amid escalating fears of a backlash after the blasts.
Muslims account for 10 per cent population of the island country. Most Sri Lankan Muslims practice a liberal form of the religion, with only a small percentage of women wearing a full face veil known as niqab.
A series of blasts shook the country on Easter Sunday, killing more than 250 people and wounding many. The blasts took place across eight locations, including three prominent churches and three hotels in the island nation.
A total of 106 suspects, including a Tamil medium teacher and a school principal, have been arrested in connection with the blasts.
According to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry, the number of foreign nationals who have been identified as killed remained at 40, including 11 from India. Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority.
(With inputs from agencies)