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Sri Lanka Bans Face Coverings, Including Veils

Law bans garments that 'hinder identification'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2019 2:17 AM CDT
Sri Lankan police officers secure the area around the bombed St. Anthony's Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 28, 2019.   (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
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(Newser) – Muslim women in Sri Lanka will no longer be able to veil their faces under an emergency law ordered by President Maithripala Sirisena that bans all kinds of face coverings that may conceal people's identities. The law takes effect Monday, eight days after the Easter bombings of churches and hotels that killed more than 250 people in Sri Lanka. Dozens of suspects have been arrested but local officials and the US Embassy in Colombo have warned that more militants remained on the loose with explosives. Life on the South Asian island nation has been tense for people of all faiths, the AP reports.

The decision came after the Cabinet had proposed laws on face veils at a recent meeting. It had deferred the matter until talks with Islamic clerics could be held, on the advice of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The nijab and burka were not specifically mentioned in the emergency law, which bans any face garment that "hinders identification," though the move was seen as targeting the garments, the BBC reports. On Sunday, ISIS claimed three of the militants that were killed in a Friday shootout with police in eastern Sri Lanka. Police say a woman and a 4-year-old child found wounded after the gunfight between police and militants have been identified as the wife and daughter of the alleged mastermind of the Easter bombings. Police say six children were among the civilians who died in the raid. (Read more Sri Lanka stories.)

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