Sri Lanka’s Muslims have reacted to the the government’s announcement of a ban on full face coverings, which make up part of traditional Muslim attire for some women, calling it “the stupidest thing to do”.
Hilmy Ahmed, vice-president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, told the BBC that the Muslim community had already been told its women to avoid leaving the house wearing a full face veil.
"It is the stupidest thing to do,” he said. “Three days ago we [the Muslim community] took a voluntary decision regarding this. The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulema told all Muslim women not to wear face veils for security reasons. If they wanted to wear a veil, then they were told not to come out.“
"We see this as a reflection of the conflict between the president and the prime minister,” he added. “We strongly criticise the decision. We will not accept the authorities interfering with the religion without consulting the religious leadership."
Sinhala politicians though lined up behind the ban, with parliamentarians such as Harshana Rajakaruna, Member of Parliament from the ruling United National Party, stating “I feel that the majority of the Muslim community are very positive and happy about the ban”.
Some Muslim organisations, such as the Sri Lanka Thauheedh Jamath (SLTJ), have also surprisingly stood behind the call to ban the burqa.
“Nowhere does it say in Islam to cover a woman’s face. There’s no proof in it,” said SLTJ secretary Mohamed Faseeh.
“There is fear. People will look upon us as terrorists now. There is national security to consider. Just take the burqa off.”
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