11 Jan 2011

Tajikistan shuts down illegal underground religious schools for not having permission to teach Islamic studies to children

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty - October 26, 2010

Tajikistan Cracks Down On Unregistered Religious Schools

KHATLON, Tajikistan -- Twenty underground religious schools with a total of 189 students have been discovered over the past week in Tajikistan's southern Khatlon district alone, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Khatlon police chief Abdurahmon Buzmakov said on October 25 that the private unregistered schools, some based in the homes of mullahs, were illegal. He said 20 teachers who were detained in the past week did not have formal permission from the State Religious Affairs Committee and local administrations to teach Islamic studies to children. Up to 130 children have been studying in such schools in the Qubodiyon and Qumsangir districts.

In recent years, authorities have intensified their control over nongovernment teaching, and RFE/RL reports from Qurghonteppa that many parents now opt to teach their children about religion at home.

Tajikistan's president and education minster have called on parents to bring home their children studying at Islamic universities abroad lest they become "terrorists and extremists." Dozens of such students have already returned to Tajikistan.

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Radio Free Europe - December 23, 2010

Tajikistan Takes On Beards, Foreign Madrasahs

by Farangis Najibullah

Tajikistan seems to be determined to meet a government deadline to return home all its students studying in unofficial foreign religious schools.

Authorities say 1,432 Tajik students have already retuned home from madrasahs in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, and have vowed that another 300 will soon be on their way.

It was President Emomali Rahmon who initially raised the issue in August, telling parents that students attending foreign madrasahs risked becoming terrorists and extremists.

Rahmon brought the topic up anew during a cabinet meeting this week, again issuing the order for the return of Tajik youth from abroad.

Tajik authorities appear to be taking the presidential instruction seriously. A new law on holding parents responsible for their children's actions and education is being drafted by lawmakers.

Precautionary measures to prevent extremism reportedly go beyond focusing on foreign madrasahs and their Tajik students. The latest is that men below the age of 50 are being discouraged from growing beards. According to one report, a passenger in southern Khatlon region was reportedly taken off a flight to Russia because of his bushy beard.

And Odina Maruf, an imam of a mosque in the Vahdat district in Dushanbe's suburbs, recently complained he was summoned by the local police and questioned over his "reasons" for growing a long beard.

Tajik officials, however, flatly deny the claims, saying no one has been detained or questioned for merely growing a beard.

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