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.

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Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday
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Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday
WARNING: This gallery contains content viewers may find distressing.
ADDS DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS THE DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a security official told The Associated Press, in the biggest violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/ Rohan Karunarathne )
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan elderly woman is helped near St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
People gather outside St. Anthony's Shrine where a blast happened, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of people killed in Church blasts mourn as they wait outside mortuary of a hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives gather outside a hospital following blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a security official told The Associated Press, in the biggest violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A relative of a blast victim grieves outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A Sri Lankan police commando enters a house suspected to be a hideout of militants following a shoot out in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankan security forces officers secure a site believed to be a hide out of the militants following a shoot out in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Relatives of a blast victim weep outside a police morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than two hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured in eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, a view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, photo, Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file)
Relatives cry near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after it returned home, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Relatives weep near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A relative holds an old portrait of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after the coffin returned home, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
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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."

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