As the hunt for the terrorist collaborators continues, the president has also enacted the extraordinary measure of closing all of Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches. This latest decision came after local officials and the US Embassy in Colombo warned more militants remained on the loose with explosives. The president Maithripala Sirisena’s office said any garment or item which obstructs the identification of a persons face would be banned.
Announcing the ban, President Sirisena’s office said in a statement: “The ban is to ensure national security.
“No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult.”
The move follows recent cabinet discussions on face coverings.
The government had said it would delay a decision until talks with Islamic clerics could be held, on the advice of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
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It will mean Muslim women in the country will only be able to wear the hijab and the chador.
They will no longer be allowed to wear the niqab and the burka.
Jihadists linked to ISIS set off suicide bombs at churches and hotels across the Sri Lankan capital last Easter Sunday.
The attacks killed 253 people including eight British citizens.
Islamic clerics urged female worshippers last week to avoid covering their faces over fears of a public backlash following the atrocities.
Muslims in the majority Buddhist nation account for about 10 per cent of its 21 million population.
A mainly liberal form of the religion is practised by Sri Lankan Muslims and only a small number of female followers wear niqabs or burqas.
Police said they had arrested 48 suspects over the past 24 hours as checkpoints mounted by all of Sri Lanka’s security forces sprung up across the country.