A Sri Lankan MP has called for a ban on Muslim women wearing the burqa in the wake of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, which killed at least 359 people and injured more than 450.
Ashu Marasinghe submitted a private member’s motion to parliament stating that the burqa was “not a traditional Muslim attire” and should be banned on security grounds.
The Sri Lankan authorities believe the attacks on Sunday at three international hotels and three churches were carried out by a local “Islamist” group with possible support from ISIS.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks on Tuesday 23 April.
Yesterday, a police spokesman said there had been nine suicide bombers on Sunday, including one woman who detonated a suicide vest as officers closed in on a home linked to the attackers.
It is not believed at this present moment that any of the male suicide bombers wore burqas during the bombings.
CCTV footage from outside St Sebastian’s church in Negombo, one of the worst-hit targets, showed a bomber in a shirt and jeans casually entering the church before detonating the explosive device in his backpack.
Nevertheless, Mr Marasinghe insisted that the burqa had been used “around the world” by men, to hide their identity and carry out terrorism acts.
He said: “Accordingly, considering the national security I propose to ban the burqa.”
Not many Muslim women wear the burqa or niqab in Sri Lanka, but the debate around banning the garment has been frequently raised in recent years.
However, many Muslim leaders and groups in Sri Lanka defend the burqa as a matter of freedom of religious expression.