Sri Lanka could become the first south Asian nation to implement a ban on the controversial burqa.
A Sri Lankan Parliamentary committee has recommended a nationwide ban on the burqa, or the Muslim garment that covers the entire face. The recommendation was a part of the suggestions made in the wake of the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka last year, which had killed over 250 people. Apart from a ban on the burqa, the committee also proposed the suspension of registration of new political parties on an ethnic and religious basis. Since the deadly attacks carried out by Islamic extremists, Sri Lanka had instituted a ban on all garments which cover the face.
There are currently 16 nations that have banned the burqa including Denmark, Austria, France, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria and the Netherlands in Europe. In France, the burqa ban was instituted to protect women and guarantee equality, and violators are fined 150 euros (Rs. 12,000) for wearing the burqa in public. In Denmark, law officials can ask women wearing the burqa to leave public places, or fine them $160 (Rs. 10,000) for the first offence, and as much as $1600 (Rs. 1 lakh) for the fourth offence.
Apart from European nations, some other countries have also banned the burqa. Wearing headscarves, veils and sporting long beards is banned in some parts of China including its restive Xinjiang province. In Africa, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon also ban the burqa. Congo’s government had said that the ban was in “national interest”, because burqas allowed people to hide their identities and launch attacks.
In addition to this, several progressive Muslim-majority countries also ban the burqa. Tunisia has banned burqas in state-run buildings after a series of terror attacks. Morocco, which is 90 percent Muslim, has banned the manufacturing, marketing and sale of the burqa over security reasons. Tajikstan, another Muslim-majority country, had banned the burqa, with a government official saying that the Islamic dress was “really dangerous”, and adding that “everyone” looked at women wearing hijabs “with concern, worried that they could be hiding something under their hijab.”