India, Sri Lanka back Jaffna Cultural Center project

Updated 24 June 2014
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India, Sri Lanka back Jaffna Cultural Center project

The agreement to appoint Madhura Premathilake as the consultant architect for construction of the Jaffna Cultural Center was signed recently in the presence of Y. K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka.
The government of India will build the Cultural Center at Jaffna at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.2 billion in the next 36 months on a plot of land adjacent to the Jaffna Public Library, made available by the Jaffna Municipal Council, according to the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
The center and the adjoining water body — the Pullukulam will be transformed into an integrated cultural space that can also accommodate open-air performances with the help of a floating stage.  
A memorandum of understanding for this purpose was signed on June 9 between the governments of India and Sri Lanka to implement the project.
The Cultural Center will provide suitable social infrastructure for the people of the Northern Province, especially for the people of Jaffna, to help them to reconnect with their cultural roots as well as to the rest of the country and to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna.  
The center, while enabling the people of Jaffna to enjoy various local and international cultural products, would also serve as a delivery center for training, instruction and education in a variety of cultural disciplines.  
The center is being developed as an iconic building that will emerge as a cultural forum that embodies coexistence and cooperation amongst the various communities on the island.
The facilities at the center include a theater-style auditorium (with projection facilities) with a capacity of up to 600 people, a multimedia library with on-line research facilities, exhibition and gallery space and a museum.  
It would also have an instructional wing, which would have facilities to conduct classes in vocal and instrumental music, dance and languages, including a language lab.  
It would also be able to serve as a hub of socio-cultural activities, for which a conference hall-cum-seminar room is included. 


Swiss canton becomes second to ban burqas in public

Updated 23 September 2018
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Swiss canton becomes second to ban burqas in public

  • Full-face coverings such as niqabs and burqas are a polarizing issue across Europe
  • The clothing has already been banned in France and Denmark

ZURICH: Voters in St. Gallen on Sunday approved by a two-thirds majority a ban on facial coverings such as the burqa, becoming the second Swiss canton to do so.
Full-face coverings such as niqabs and burqas are a polarizing issue across Europe, with some arguing that they symbolize discrimination against women and should be outlawed. The clothing has already been banned in France and Denmark.
Under the Swiss system of direct democracy, voters in the northeastern canton demanded tightening the law to punish those who cover their faces in public and thus “threaten or endanger public security or religious or social peace.”
The regional government, which had opposed the measure, now has to implement the result of the vote, which drew turnout of around 36 percent.
Switzerland’s largest Islamic organization, the Islamic Central Council, recommended women continue to cover their faces. It said it would closely monitor the implementation of the ban and consider legal action if necessary.
The Swiss federal government in June opposed a grassroots campaign for a nationwide ban on facial coverings.
The Swiss cabinet said individual cantons should decide on the matter, but it will nevertheless go to a nationwide vote after activists last year collected more than the required 100,000 signatures to trigger a referendum.
Two-thirds of Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents identify as Christians. But its Muslim population has risen to 5 percent, largely because of immigrants from former Yugoslavia.
One Swiss canton, Italian-speaking Ticino, already has a similar ban, while two others have rejected it.