The Slatest

Sri Lanka Bans all Face Veils After Easter Bombings

Sri Lankan muslims leave after offering Eid prayers on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr festival at the Galle Face esplanade in Colombo on July 6, 2016.
Sri Lankan muslims leave after offering Eid prayers on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr festival at the Galle Face esplanade in Colombo on July 6, 2016.
LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/Getty Images

As of Monday, Muslim women in Sri Lanka will no longer be allowed to wear face veils in public. All types of face coverings that could hide someone’s identity are now banned in the country under an emergency law. The measure was imposed a week after more than 250 people were killed in a series of bombings that targeted churches and hotels. “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,” read a news release from the president’s office.

Catholics in Sri Lanka, meanwhile, were not able to attend Sunday Mass as churches remained shut amid fears of further attacks. Many Catholics stayed home and watched a televised service given by the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranjith from his home. In a sign of unity, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and former president and opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa attended the service in person.

“This is a time our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday,” Ranjith said during his televised Mass. “This is a time questions such as, does God truly love us, does he have compassion toward us, can arise in human hearts.”

The concern of further attacks comes amid warnings from both local officials and the U.S. Embassy that more attacks could be imminent. In an illustration of how serious the threat could be, authorities say they found a sophisticated bomb-making operation at a site where three militants blew themselves up after law enforcement officials found them. Police also raided the headquarters of the hardline Islamist group National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) that was founded by the man suspected of being the mastermind behind the Easter bombings. Authorities believe the founder of NTJ, Zahran Hashim, was one of the nine suicide bombers.