Saturday 3 January 2009
Last month, authorities in the capital Dushanbe’s Sino district closed down a mosque, saying it lacked an official license. The mosque has been operating since 1928, despite the Soviet-era clampdown on religious institutions.
In the past two years, dozens of mosques have been closed down all over the country and at least two Dushanbe mosques were bulldozed after officials accused them of failing to register with local authorities. Some former mosques have been turned into pool halls, public baths, and beauty salons.
Many imams who have tried to register their mosques complain about a complicated bureaucratic procedure involving a lot of paperwork.
At the same time, the wearing of Islamic hijab has been outlawed in public schools and government offices. Female employees of shopkeepers were ordered to remove their head scarves if they wanted to keep their jobs.
The government, however, insists that it maintains complete religious freedom in the country. Unlike during Soviet times, people are free to attend mosque prayers, fast during the holy month of Ramadan, and educate their children in officially registered religious schools.
The Education Ministry has said female students have the right to wear hijab outside schools, but they must observe secular schools’ rules banning Islamic dress inside school buildings.
As a wider government campaign to restrict the increasing influence of Islam in Tajik society, the history of Islam and his prophet are de-sacralised in school texts. Even Soviet-era textbooks, which were openly atheistic, didn’t go so far.
See online : About the pro-Zoroastrian President of Tajikistan