Republic Next Logo
Politics

Muslim women harassed in government offices – activists

President Sirisena pledges corrective action after community leaders say women are being asked to wear sarees

President Maithripala Sirisena addressing media /Sudath Silva PMD


Muslim Civil Society leaders are objecting to some persons in the government service who have harassed women workers for wearing Muslim attire to work.

A group of these activists met President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo this morning and brought several matters to his attention.

They told the President that some government officers were asking Muslim women to remove their headscarves – Hijab – and come to work dressed in sarees.

They point out that guidelines given by institutions such as the University Grants Commission permit women to cover their heads and necks “as a matter of personal preference.”

The UGC circular, however, says that no person will be “allowed to enter the office premises with a face cover.”


This means Muslim women who wear the Niqab with a face covering will have to remove the face veil.

The apex organisation of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyatul Ulema decreed some days ago that women should unveil if required to do so by the authorities.

The Muslim activists also reminded the President of a ruling by the Human Rights Council with regard to Muslim attire for women.

In the February 2019 ruling the HRCSL ruled against a school which forced Muslim staff to wear sarees.

The President had then promised to as the government departments to follow the UGC guidelines as it was an acceptable compromise for the Muslim community.

The Muslim activists also pointed out that conventional followers of Islam do not support the extremist groups and maintain good relations with all the other communities.

They said that after the massacres Muslims are being viewed with suspicion and this has caused fear in the community.

The President replied by saying that viewing a particular community with suspicion harms the integrity and unity of the nation.

Sirisena also said that the heinous action of a few cannot be allowed to disrupt the unity of the country.