Foreign Policy Digital

Sri Lanka’s Veil Ban Is Fueling Hate

Muslim women obeying new rules are still being assaulted and harassed.

On May 8, when the 47-year-old Nazia Naseer (a pseudonym) went to her 5-year-old daughter’s school in Colombo to attend a parent-teacher meeting, she was stopped at the gate by other parents and teachers because of the way she was dressed. Naseer, like about 10 percent of Sri Lankans, is Muslim—a group now facing increased prejudice and violent attacks.

Following the bombings by an Islamic State-affiliated group that killed more than 250 people in the country’s capital last month, the Sri Lankan government banned the covering of face that “hinders the identification of individuals in a way that threatens national security.”

The measure was, a public journal run by the government that is seen as an authoritative source, offered no clear visual definitions of what’s banned and what’s not, leading to confusion among the general public. However, Minister of Parliament Harsha de Silva later on Twitter that the hijab was indeed legal.

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