Sri Lanka bans all face coverings after Easter Sunday bombings

The president of Sri Lanka has announced an emergency law banning all face-covering garments following the Easter bombings that left over 250 people dead and hundreds more injured at churches and high-end hotels throughout the country.

"(President Maithripala Sirisena) has made this decision to strengthen national security as well as to not inconvenience any demographic group so as to create a peaceful and harmonious society in Sri Lanka," read a Sunday statement from the nation's leader.

"All sorts of face covers that hinders the identification of individuals in a way that threatens national security shall be banned with effect from 29 April 2019 as per Emergency Regulations," it continued. "The order specifies that the base criterion for identification is the ability to see the face of an individual clearly."

The ban, which took effect Monday, applies to religious garments worn by Muslim women, such as burqas and niqabs, and other face-obscuring accessories, such as helmets and masks, CNN reports.

The nation joins a list of countries to issue similar bans, including France, Belgium and Denmark.

In a statement to the BBC, Hilmy Ahmed, vice-president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, condemned the president's decision, calling it "the stupidest thing to do," considering an advisory the council sent out following the bombings.

"Three days ago we [the Muslim community] took a voluntary decision regarding this," Ahmed said. "The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulema told all Muslim women not to wear face veils for security reasons. If they wanted to wear a veil, then they were told not to come out."

"We see this as a reflection of the conflict between the president and the prime minister," Ahmed added. "We strongly criticize the decision. We will not accept the authorities interfering with the religion without consulting the religious leadership."