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Sri Lanka Imposes Emergency Law Banning Face Coverings

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter

Sri Lanka imposed an emergency law banning face coverings in the wake of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced Monday that he would use an emergency law to ban head coverings or any covering that “hinders identification,” according to BBC News.

The move comes after reports suggested some individuals involved in the Easter bombings may have been women wearing head coverings. Women wearing burqas were spotted fleeing the Easter bombing sites, government officials told the Daily Mirror. Officials suspect many of these women were involved in the attacks on Christians that killed about 250 people and sent 450 others to the hospital.

Sri Lankan MP Ashu Marasinghe proposed a bill banning burqas on his Facebook page on April 23, saying that the head coverings pose national security risks because of their ability to hide terrorists. (RELATED: Extremists In Sri Lanka Add 15 More To Country’s Death Toll)

Muslim residents of Sri Lanka criticized the ban, saying they had already resolved not to wear burqas voluntarily.

“It is the stupidest thing to do,” Hilmy Ahmed, vice-president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, told BBC. “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. We strongly criticize the decision. We will not accept the authorities interfering with the religion without consulting the religious leadership.”

Authorities cancelled Sunday church services across Sri Lanka as the country is still on high alert from the terrorist attacks, but Christians gathered to pray outside the badly damaged St. Anthony’s Shrine Sunday morning according to BBC.

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