Colombo: Sri Lanka has implemented a ban on the burqa following the Easter Sunday attacks that claimed the lives of at least 321 people and wounded nearly 500 others in the island nation. “President Maithripala Sirisena took this decision to further support the ongoing security and help the armed forces to easily identify the identity of any wanted perpetrators,” stated a press release from the president’s office. The ban is effective from Monday, i.e., April 29.

Notably, burqa and niqab were never part of the traditional attire of Muslim women in Sri Lanka until the Gulf War in the early 1990s which saw extremist elements introducing the garb. Defence sources reportedly said that a number of female accomplices of incidents in Dematagoda too had escaped wearing burqas.

A string of powerful blasts was suspected to be carried out by National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) jihadist group. However, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks that ripped through three churches and as many luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. The bombs tore through three five-star hotels in Colombo: the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. At least 38 foreigners, including 10 Indian nationals, died in the attacks. Forty suspects, including the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers, were arrested in connection with the multiple attacks.

With the burqa ban, Sri Lanka joins the group of nations in Asia, Africa, and Europe that have done so in the interest of preventing terrorists from using the burqa to evade police or hide explosives. Among the nations that have enacted a ban on the item are Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Morocco, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Belgium, and Xinjiang, a Muslim-majority province in northwestern China, stated a report.

(With agency inputs)