What do you know about... Tajikistan?!

Islam Worries an Authoritarian Government

Islam is blossoming in Tajikistan. Beards are in style. Headscarves, too. Bazaars are doing a booming trade in prayer rugs, religious audio recordings and gaudy clocks featuring Muslim holy sites.

After decades of enforced secularism, the people of this impoverished former Soviet republic have been flocking to their traditional religion with all the zeal of born-again movements anywhere in the world.

Bearded men have been detained at random, and women barred from religious services. This year, the government demanded that students studying religion at universities in places like Egypt, Syria and Iran return home. The police have shuttered private mosques and Islamic Web sites, and government censors now monitor Friday sermons, stepping in when muftis stray from the government line.

Last month, lawmakers took what many here said was a drastic step further: they passed a law that would, among other things, bar children younger than 18 from attending religious services at mosques.

It is called the law “on parental responsibility for educating and raising children,” and the measure, according to officials, is meant to prevent children from skipping school to attend prayer services, and it would hold parents responsible if they do.

“We have secular extremism here,” said Khodzhi Akbar Turadzhonzoda , a prominent Islamic leader and a former member of Tajikistan’s Parliament. Talk of Islamic radicalism in Tajikistan, he said, “is a lie.”

“This is only to deceive the people, strengthen dictatorships, and spend more money on weapons and the secret services.”

From the

mash'Allah and subhan'Allah in equal measure.