Sri Lanka has initiated a plan to ban the burqa as interrogation of suspects and other evidence are pointing to the involvement of a large number of women in the Easter Sunday attacks that killed at least 321 people and wounded nearly 500 others in the island nation, a media report said on Tuesday. The government is planning to implement the move in consultation with the mosque authorities, the Daily Mirror reported quoting sources.
"The government, he said (source), is planning to implement the move in consultation with the mosque authorities and on Monday several ministers had spoken to President Maithripala Sirisena on the matter," the paper reported the source as saying.
It has been pointed out that burqa and niqab were never part of the traditional attire of Muslim women in Sri Lanka until the Gulf War in the early 1990s which saw extremist elements introducing the garb to Muslim women.
Defence sources said that a number of female accomplices of incidents in Dematagoda too had escaped wearing burqas, the report said. A string of powerful blasts, suspected to be carried on by National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) jihadist group, ripped through three churches and as many luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 321 people and injuring more than 500 others, shattering a decade of peace in the country following the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.
The bombs tore through three five-star hotels in Colombo: the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. At least 38 foreigners, including 10 Indian nationals, have died in the attacks. Forty suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers, have been arrested in connection with the multiple attack.
If Sri Lanka adopts the burqa ban, it would join the group of nations in Asia, Africa, and Europe that have done so in the interest of preventing terrorists from using the burqa to evade police or hide explosives.
Among the nations that have enacted a ban on the item are Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Morocco, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Belgium, and Xinjiang, a Muslim-majority province in northwestern China, the paper reported.