Even few years ago, Muslim women and girls never wore the burqa in Sri Lanka. But in the recent time, wearing burqa has become a sign of religious extremism. Under such circumstance, Sri Lankan lawmakers are compelled in initiating laws – banning burqa as well as Islamic schools. Sri Lankan Minister for Public Security Sarath Weerasekera has signed documents outlawing the burqa, but they need to be approved by the cabinet of ministers and Parliament where the government has a two-thirds majority to see its bills through.
At a media conference, Weerasekara said: “The burqa is something that directly affects our national security…this [dress] came into Sri Lanka only recently. It is a symbol of their religious extremism”.
Weerasekera also said the government plans to ban more than 1,000 Islamic schools that he said were flouting national education policy.
“Nobody can open a school and teach whatever you want to the children,” he said.
The wearing of burqas was temporarily banned in 2019 after the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 260 people. Two local Muslim groups that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) group have been blamed for the attacks at six locations — two Roman Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three top hotels.
Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was elected president in 2019, after promising a crackdown on “extremism” promulgated regulations allowing the detention of anyone suspected of causing “acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities”.
Muslims make up about 9 percent of the 22 million people in Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese Buddhists account for some 75 percent of the population.
Islamic schools, breeding grounds of jihadists
Although some Western counterterrorism experts believe, Koranic and Islamic schools are not responsible for breeding jihadists and promoting radical Islam, if we look into the track records of global jihadism, we shall clearly understand – these religious schools are playing key role in radicalizing Muslims as well as encouraging students in waging jihad against “non-Muslims”.
The world is gradually getting united on one agenda on combating terrorism and Jihad. International community has reason now to speak out against Jihad as for past several years, multiple forms of terror acts are spreading in the world mostly by religious fanatics or Jihadists. Most of the countries in the world are falling victims of radical Islamic jihad.
In most of the nations in the world, while Islamic schools and mosques are being regularly used for breeding jihadism, a group named Tablighi Jamaat, that pretends to be an innocent entity has actually the agenda of spreading the message of jihad amongst the people. In a number of terrorist activities in the world, Tablighi Jamaat’s involvements were clearly proved.
Main objective of Tablighis is to encourage people towards religious conversion. The next agenda is instigating Jihadist notion. Third is ousting democracy.
As I have been repeatedly saying – madrassas are the breeding grounds of Jihadists; it is unknown to many that, only 26 per cent of the students coming out of Koranic madrassas ultimately find a job with any mosque as cleric or assistants to clerics, while the larger segment of such madrassa educated people with high Jihadist brain-wash just melt into the society. A significant portion of these madrassa-educated population simply disappear and may find ways to any of the foreign nations – under the disguise of workers. But of course, they always remain committed to promoting radical Islam, religious hatred and jihad. For every nation, having madrassa-educated people in the society – are certainly taking a high risk of pushing the country towards a total uncertainty of radical Islamic atrocities.
So, for Sri Lankan authorities, it is also essential to consider the activities of Tablighi Jamaat and immediately outlaw activities of this group for the sake of national security. Similarly, activities of Tablighi Jamaat should come under stricter surveillance internationally.