Sri Lanka to ban burqa, shut many Islamic schools

Sri Lanka will ban the wearing of the burqa and shut more than a thousand Islamic schools, according to a government minister.

It's the latest move from the government affecting the country's minority Muslim population.

Speaking at a news conference, the minister for public security had this to say:

"Yesterday I signed a cabinet paper to ban the burqa. It affects our national security directly. In our early days Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa. It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We are definitely going to ban it. Also

there are more than 2000 madrasa schools in the country. Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children. Children from the ages of five to 16 years must study in accordance with the national education policy. Therefore more than a thousand madrases that do not adhere to the national education policy and are not registered will be closed soon"

The government's moves on burqas and schools follow an order last year mandating the cremation of COVID-19 victims - against the wishes of Muslims, who bury their dead.

This ban was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the United States and international rights groups.

Video Transcript

- --thousand Islamic schools, according to a government minister. It's the latest move from the government affecting the country's minority Muslim population. Speaking at a news conference, Serath Weerasekera, minister for public security, had this to say.

SERATH WEERASEKERA: (THROUGH INTERPRETER) Yesterday, I signed a cabinet paper to ban the burqa. It affects our national security directly. In our early days, Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa. It's a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We're definitely going to ban it.

Also, there are more than 2,000 madrasa schools in the country. Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children. Children from the ages of five to 16 years must study in accordance with the national education policy. Therefore, more than 1,000 madrasas that do not adhere to the national education policy and are not registered will be closed soon.

- The government's moves on burqas and schools follow an order last year mandating the cremation of COVID-19 victims against the wishes of Muslims who bury their dead. The ban was lifted earlier this year after criticism from the United States and international rights groups.