Sri Lanka's Cabinet approved a proposal to ban the burqa, as discrimination against Muslims continues to rise on the island.
Last month, Sri Lanka's Minister for Public Security, Sarath Weerasekara, submitted the proposal on the grounds of "national security" and claimed that the burqa us a "sign of religious extremism."
Weerasekara's announcement came days after Sri Lanka decided to end the forced cremation policy, a year after it was implemented. Following the coronavirus outbreak, the Sri Lankan government made cremations compulsory for all coronavirus victims, disregarding advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and going against Islamic tradition.
Following the announcement last month, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, tweeted that "burka bans are incompatible with international law guarantees of the right to manifest one's religion or belief and of freedom of expression!"
This development comes as Sri Lanka intensifies its repression of the Muslim community and ongoing attempts to silence dissenting voices. A female Muslim human rights activist reported that she was reprimanded by Sri Lankan police for speaking out against the burqa ban. Those who similarly condemned Islamophobic policies, such as forced cremations, were also threatened. The female human rights activist further stated that the police threatened to arrest her and that her family would be in danger if she continued criticising government policies.
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