Notwithstanding the earlier media reports that the government was in a move to ban burka that covers the body fully except eyes, co-cabinet spokesman and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday that the cabinet did not discuss the issue on Monday.
Addressing the weekly cabinet news briefing last morning on virtual format, Minister Rambukwella said a decision to ban burka, hijab, chador or niqab has to be taken after consulting Muslim religious and community representatives. We can’t say whether there is an absolute threat to the national security from Muslim women who wear full face covers like hijab, burka, chador or niqab without a thorough analysis and consultation of the issue and consultation. But I believe that we will have to act before something happens and take precautionary measures beforehand,” Minister Rambukwella stressed.
Responding to a journalist, Minister Rambukwella also said the government had not taken a decision to ban Arabic language in the country either.
The Muslim community in Sri Lanka maintained a good rapport with other communities in the country for centuries. Normally, they are not racists or quarrelsome. But since late, after the Easter Sunday massacre, there has been a threat to this co-existence and that is why we must handle any issue affecting minority communities very carefully, he added.
Co Cabinet spokesman and Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana answering another query said the government had no intention at the moment to ban full face helmets.
“We have witnessed the destruction of lives and maiming of so many young men in road accidents involving motor cycles when they fail to wear a proper helmet. Therefore, I believe that this is not the time to ban full face helmets,” Minister Pathirana noted. (SANDUN A JAYASEKERA)