Sri Lankan MP calls for burqa ban in wake of Easter massacre

Adam Withnall
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Sri Lankan MP calls for burqa ban in wake of Easter massacre

A Sri Lankan MP has proposed a ban on women wearing the burqa in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed at least 359 people and were claimed yesterday by Isis.

Ashu Marasinghe submitted a private member’s motion to parliament stating that the garment, which covers the whole body and the face, was “not a traditional Muslim attire” and should be outlawed on security grounds.

The Sri Lankan authorities believe the attacks on Sunday at three churches and three international hotels were carried out by a group of local Islamist extremists with possible support from Isis.

On Wednesday, a police spokesman said there had been nine suicide bombers on Sunday, including one woman who detonated a bomb vest as officers raided a home linked to the attackers.

It is not thought at this stage that any of the male suicide bombers wore burqas during the attacks.

CCTV footage from outside St Sebastian’s church in Negombo, one of the worst-hit targets, appeared to show a bomber in jeans and a shirt casually entering the church before detonating a device in a backpack.

Nonetheless, Mr Marasinghe said that the burqa had been used “around the world” by men, to hide their identity and carry out acts of terrorism. “Accordingly, considering the national security I propose to ban the burqa,” he said.

Few of Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority community actually wear the full-face veil, but the issue of a possible ban has been raised repeatedly in recent years. Some, though not all, Muslim leaders defend the burqa as a matter of freedom of religious expression.