Tajikistan bans Muslim youths from praying in mosques

Published: August 4, 2011
All people under 18, except those studying at religious schools, are banned from worshipping in the Central Asian nation's mosques, churches or other religious site.

All people under 18, except those studying at religious schools, are banned from worshipping in the Central Asian nation's mosques, churches or other religious site.

DUSHANBE: Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon has banned youths from praying in mosques and churches, prompting a local Muslim leader to call the move “a gruesome gift” for the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

Rakhmon, in power since 1992, signed the bill on “parental responsibility” on Wednesday. He has said tough measures are needed to stop the spread of religious fundamentalism in his country of 7.5 million people, 98 percent of whom are Muslim.

All people under 18, except those studying at religious schools, are banned from worshipping in the Central Asian nation’s mosques, churches or other religious sites, said the law which came into force on Thursday.

It also bans girls from wearing jewellery except earrings and prohibits people under 20 from getting tattoos, going to night clubs and watching films or reading material which “disseminates pornography, violence, extremism and terrorism”.

It is not clear what the punishment is for breaking the ban.

“During the month of Ramazan and just a month before the 20th anniversary of (Tajikistan’s) independence, the authorities made a gruesome present to all believers,” prominent Muslim theologist Akbar Turajonzoda told Reuters.

“Prior to the adoption of this law, the authorities had already become too distant from their people and their needs, and now they turn this gap into an abyss of estrangement.”

Rakhmon, whose Moscow-backed secular government clashed with the Islamic opposition during a 1992-97 civil war, has ignored requests from the United States and European Union to respect the freedom of conscience.

Rakhmon, who enjoys vast powers in the poorest of the former Soviet states, last year brought many Tajik students home from religious schools abroad and clamped down on a growing trend for Islamic dress.

A total of 158 people were jailed for “religious extremism” in Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan and China, in 2010, five times more than in 2009.

“The president must have forgotten that the law of God is superior to the earthly law,” said Turajonzoda, a former opposition leader. “This is why I doubt that under fear of fines young people will stop paying respect to Allah by praying.”

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Reader Comments (53)

  • s.w.a
    Aug 4, 2011 - 1:54PM

    what has wearing jewellery got to do with religious extremism??? confused plan of action!!!


  • Aug 4, 2011 - 2:10PM

    Unless drastic measures like Tajikistan are taken, no country will survive from the evil of religious fundamentalism and mass hysteria. Pakistan is the best example of degradation in humanity and human rights. As a Karachite, I know the stage where our country has been brought to. Even China is pointing a finger at us.


  • Ozymandias
    Aug 4, 2011 - 2:22PM

    @Subhan Basha:

    Please don’t take Tajikistan as an example.


  • Aug 4, 2011 - 2:26PM

    lol. And just as I think there will be someone out there who’d justify these steps , Basha’s comment appears.

    How is praying in a mosque under the age of 18 ‘evil’ Basha? Please enlighten.Recommend

  • Someone
    Aug 4, 2011 - 2:42PM

    There are two kinds of extremism. One is overt fanatical religious radicalisation. The other is secular extremism (read Subhan Basha and this Tajikistan example). I am waiting for the day when both extremism are kicked out of here


  • Aug 4, 2011 - 2:58PM

    This is not the way to eradicate extremism, they should have started arresting the people who are spreading extremism.


  • Qasim
    Aug 4, 2011 - 2:59PM

    @Subhan Basha:
    Can’t believe this supposedly coming from a Muslim? Fundamentalism is universal phenomenon; has any other country or religion taken those steps to prove that it works?

  • Aug 4, 2011 - 3:01PM

    A child has no religion. Just like there’s no such thing as an “MQM child” or a “PPP child”, there’s no such thing as a Muslim/Christian child. This is simply because the kid is way too young to understand what it means to be a Muslim or Christian, and thrusting the ideologies of the parents upon children is, in a way, child abuse…because by doing so, you’re denying your child the right to make an unbiased decision of his own.

    When they’re 18, they may choose any religion they want, if any.

    The law banning jewelry makes some sense as long as artificial jewelry is exempted.


  • Aug 4, 2011 - 3:08PM

    By the way, I despise the way this ban is being made to look like some anti-Islam conspiracy. The ban affects all religions from Islam to Christianity. But it’s completely understandable that one group gets to raise more of a ruckus than the rest. After all, they have unique rights that no other religion in the world has or even deserves, as they may claim.


  • abbas
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:17PM

    That is sick, and unfortunately we have ample of such sick heads in our Muslim community. Its like kill the patient to take care of disease. Simply insane.


  • Maulana Diesel
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:17PM

    @Basha… i am willing to buy you a one way ticket to Tajikistan. Interested?


  • Jahanzeb
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:20PM

    What they r trying to do & what’s the aim so sorry for the youth of Tajikistan they should be united and pray to Allah InshAllah will make the way out from this situation


  • SK
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:22PM

    yeah stop believing in right thing- that’s the way to peace in this world- this has to be a joke at the very least


  • Aug 4, 2011 - 3:31PM

    @Maulana Diesel:
    That is a fantastic offer – Basha will enjoy – – – –


    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi
    Johannesburg – South Africa


  • Alsahdiq
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:33PM

    If Tajikistan’s population indeed consists of 98% of Muslims, then there should have been Islamic system in that country. True? But there is’nt Islamic system there or anywhere else. Why?
    Wherever Muslims settle down or dwell in good numbers, they always come together regularly to keep their community united, well informed and in practice of upholding justice, co-operation, self help and self reliance.
    Muslims are under Divine command to organise themselves in such a way that they are able to consult and be consulted. To consult the population in those matters which affect their lives and act accordingly is indeed “Envy of Democracy” and this ruling comes from no other than the Lord (swt) Himself.
    The early Muslims had no other option than to organise very much as stated above. They would come together and congregate in their only mosque and resolve all the problems themselves. They would also modernise or amend their deeds and practices as and when Divine command came to them through the Messenger (saw).
    Now the question is that, is there a single mosque on the face of our earth where Muslims have organised themselves in the manner that the early Muslims organised themselves? Is there? No.
    William Penn, a Quaker said a very faith enhancing and philosophical thing. He said “Tyrants govern those who do not like to be governed by God”. Tyrants are governing everywhere in the world, very simply because people, even those calling themselves Muslims have left their life, country and destiny in the hands of tyrants.
    The way to avoid tyrants is for the people themselves to follow into the foot steps of those early Muslims who created the “Envy of Democracy” in full obedience the the Lord (swt) and then never looked back. The way is to come together regularly and organise themselves to become “Responsible Citizens”. Responsible to keep Autocracy well out of their way. This is the responsibility of the people. All people. If people do not act to organise themselves then slavery of the tyrants will remain their destiny.


  • abbas
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:42PM

    @ Mr/Ms. Loneliberal – being liberal is not good enough, one has to have some common sense at the same time. Tajikistan has 98% of muslims and u think this (insane ban which has no logic actually) has equally effected all the religon there.Recommend

  • Reality Bites
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:43PM

    Because anybody who prays in a mosque or church is a terrorist right? This is possibly the most absurd display of power by any government I’ve ever seen.


  • Saad Durrani
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:47PM

    What a stupid law.


  • Hasan
    Aug 4, 2011 - 3:51PM

    Prayers can be made (said) away from Mosques and Churches – after-all religion is a private matter!


  • Manoj
    Aug 4, 2011 - 4:03PM

    Yes, I agree with the policy of Tajik Govt. and believe that all secular nation including India should ban all public display of religious affiliation.
    Religion is private matter between a man and His God and it should be praticed within the four walls of his house.

    All the historical temple, Mosque, Gurudwara and Churches should be declared historical monument and rest should be demolished and land should be used to construct Universities, Hospitals, playgrounds etc.

    Display of statue and pictures of God / godess/ Gurudwara/ mosque and chrches in public place and govt office in India is murder of secularism in the country.
    As a Hindu and Indian citizen I feel bad when I see small hindu temple in almost all police station in the country and think how our muslim brother, if he has issues with a hindu must be thinking about approching such police station. I am of the opinion that state and all it’s agency must be neutral to all religious affiliation in words / deeds and appearance while performing their official duty. In private he / she has the liberty to be staunch practisnor of his religion.


  • Rehan
    Aug 4, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Imomali Rakhmon, please come to Pakistan! Pakistan needs someone like you right now.


  • R A
    Aug 4, 2011 - 5:14PM

    If thiis is an attack on Islam then
    I would like to tell them that Islam
    is too strong to stand these bans.
    But if these actions are against those
    who use Islam to promote their
    extremist activities then I will welcome
    and say GOOD LUCK.

  • J Oberoi
    Aug 4, 2011 - 6:01PM

    All I can say is that religious belief is a personal thing and something that has to stay within the confines of the mind. Organized, mass religion has never benefited society.


  • Khalid Rahim
    Aug 4, 2011 - 6:52PM

    This action should have been taken by that government which succeeded the fall of General
    Zia ul Haq’s bigoted religious regime, used mainly to empower themselves and fight other’s wars for a fistful of heroine.Banning the youth will surge into greater problems for Dushanbe.
    Instead appoint preachers who have scholarly understanding of Islam and conduct themselve
    spiritually and not politically such as being done in this country.


  • Tanoli
    Aug 4, 2011 - 6:56PM

    Communism is back after 20 years of freedon and may be time to go mr imam alioff.


  • Vickram
    Aug 4, 2011 - 8:01PM


    errrr.. In which country and in which period was this ‘Envy of Democracy?’


  • Kamal
    Aug 4, 2011 - 8:35PM

    I wouldn’t comment on the legitimacy or the ethics of this law…to each his own, right..? However, I am worried about what this means about individual freedoms, civil liberties and all those other inalienable rights that us Orientals(And yes..I do mean all of us) are expected to conform to, to be called civilized, as if we don’t have our own rich ethos coming out of the East.

    I can’t help but wonder whether history will continue to repeat itself all over the world in an incessant morbid cycle till all of us nations – the developed, the developing and the under-developed – have been individually baptized with blood, hate and grief. The President of the Central Asian Republic may have the best interest of the country at heart or he may not, but either way curbing something as passion evoking as religion, even if its been done so for the betterment of all, requires a lot of tact, subtlety and character because such sweeping measures not only inflame the majority and possibly induce some elements to be violent in turn, but also set very dangerous precedents on what is permissible and what isn’t for succeeding governments. I just hope that the resentment this will produce does not accrue into bloodshed and protests.


  • rusm
    Aug 4, 2011 - 8:52PM

    Rakhmon is the man. Maybe he can save some of the youth


  • farrukh
    Aug 4, 2011 - 10:25PM

    we should also implement such laws in pakistan.only then we can save our country from inevitable destruction……


  • Deb
    Aug 5, 2011 - 3:01AM

    To all those who are overly religious (Christians,Muslims,Hindus,Jews), who eat,drink and dream religion:

    Take your religion off the street, keep it within the four walls of your prayer room and don’t wear it on your sleave.

    Most things (if not everything) will be alright.
    Try once. You will be surprised.


  • Mehnaz
    Aug 5, 2011 - 3:06AM

    You are the lone voice of sanity here :) Well said!


  • Kaveh
    Aug 5, 2011 - 3:12AM

    Bravo!!! We should protect the youth from being brainwashed at early ages by stupid beliefs. This is definitely the right path to go and other countries should follow the same.


  • inshallah
    Aug 5, 2011 - 4:20AM

    Islam is a special religion and needs special treatment. One has to read the biography of Prophet Muhammed to figure it out.Recommend

  • Sara
    Aug 5, 2011 - 4:54AM

    this is hilarious! its only going to have to opposite effect!


  • Abdul-Mughis Rana
    Aug 5, 2011 - 5:16AM

    A lady was looking for someone who could make a nose-pin hole after a long time she did found someone but he was intending to just remove the nose so the base is removed altogether! Idiotic decision!!!


  • Abdul-Mughis Rana
    Aug 5, 2011 - 5:24AM

    we can’t suggest that people outside Masjid should be banned Muslim or otherwise for simple reason that this would be idiotic and extreme act, so how can Tajikstan practice such idiocy. America for her interest played hell with the peace of the World and dheelay dhaalay Muslim got their football!


  • Truth Prevails
    Aug 5, 2011 - 7:03AM

    @Subhan Basha:
    You know what ? … As a Karachite I am foreseeing things the other way around as opposed to your vain desires. We welcome more brutality than what we saw in Afghanistan and I will make sure this happens in front of your and my eyes


  • Khalil
    Aug 5, 2011 - 7:19AM

    As long as one is Christian, Jew or Hindu. You logic doesn’t apply to Islam.


  • Nasir
    Aug 5, 2011 - 7:21AM

    Pakistan doesn’t need people like you … Flee to Tajikistan at your first, otherwise this will we made at our first


  • Intelektual
    Aug 5, 2011 - 8:48AM

    The bill Titled “Parental Responsibility” is an example of extreme autocracies, what does Imomali Rakhmon is doing to curb his own extremist tendencies !!
    What is absolutely disgraceful, illogical and downright fascist is the comparison of Mosques and Churches with Night Clubs and Comparing praying to getting tattoos or watching pornography.
    I am surprised to see comments and recommendations that are supportive and understanding of this Inhumane, conservative and anti liberal act.
    Let’s stop religious extremism by incorporating extreme fascist atheism in statute, in a country where 98% belongs to a single religious group and the remaining 2% to others !!
    I am appalled and whole heartedly condemn this undemocratic oppression.
    @Subhan Bhasha: the drastic measures needed are those of education poverty allevation and social and religious equality not Fascism !!
    @Loneliberal Pk: It is not made to look against Islam but IT IS materially against 98% muslim citizen of that state !!


  • Aug 5, 2011 - 9:05AM

    Well, I have no idea how a couple of those restrictions got the label of being influences of extremism. This is a bit drastic due to the permanent sound to it. Those things are foolish to do as a long term plan. If it’s intended to be a temporary move out of desperation seen as simply cutting off those concerns to buy them time to decide on something a little more workable, that wouldn’t be all that bad. But, by the looks of things, it’s intended to be an end result rather than a first step.


  • Intelektual
    Aug 5, 2011 - 9:28AM

    @Loneliberal PK: How can you call yourself a Liberal when u are sympathetic Communist Oppression !! what happened to the basic Human right to practice religion that is not even demanding extreme civil liberalization !! Also you are against parents enforcing their ideologies on children and this law is going to enforce this very same thing in every practicality!!

    @Manoj: Yes ! stop people going from their place of worship in the Open and this will stop the extremists that always work and operate in hiding !!
    This is irrational on so many levels how will it end religious bias of Institutions How will it control fundamentalist and extremist parents from corrupting their children with the same hatred when they are the sole source of their guidance until the age of 18 !

    I know people viewing religions in general as the “Root of all evil” when they are basically ignoring the fact that its not religions nor GOD its Humans Themselves !! their uneducated, unforgiving oppressive and Biased Natures; all is needed to fire a conflict is a difference YES any single difference our self righteous ignorant selves are to high headed to accept it needs not be religion !! Denying religious or any other basic civil liberty is only going to make matters worse !


  • Hasan
    Aug 5, 2011 - 10:28AM

    But my logic does apply to Islam; unfortunately many followers of Islam are currently experiencing a sheep mentality that precludes them from critical analysis – they blindly do as they are told!


  • Tony Singh
    Aug 5, 2011 - 11:54AM

    Agreed 100%. Keep religion off the street. Its as private as ones toothbrush.


  • a r modak
    Aug 5, 2011 - 1:49PM

    if such strict measures were to be introduced, then the imam should start banning prohibited places, such as nightclubs, and seedy places that disrupt the morality of its youth.

    banning them from mosques is a denial of a fundamental right of worship-
    and that in a muslim country


  • Ghee
    Aug 5, 2011 - 2:24PM

    If the people of that country have strong affiliation with their religions that they can accept this ban and will go and pray in religious centers because witout poeple support government and rulers an nothing and they can not impose anything against the will of their people.

  • Aug 5, 2011 - 4:25PM

    Intelektual: “what happened to the basic Human right to practice religion that is not even demanding extreme civil liberalization”

    Ask that question the next time a person is threatened with death for leaving Islam.


  • Rahimat Sadiq
    Aug 7, 2011 - 7:14AM

    If you are a true Muslim then you must eat, breath and drink Islam. There is no such thing as secularism in Islam. The State, Laws, Judiciary, economy, Police, Army, Science, Medicine, schools, university, everything must be obedient to the sword of Allah. Those of you say Islam is a private matter know thing of Islam. The people must live under the sword of Islam to be kept obedient. The people will stray from the path and kept there by the sword. That is why in Saudia Arabia there is not crime and is the happiest country in the world.


  • Cynical
    Aug 7, 2011 - 1:07PM

    @Rahimat Sadiq

    You mean to say, a ‘true Muslim’ is a potential criminal who should always be under the watchfull eyes of the sword wielding Islam.


  • Abhi
    Aug 7, 2011 - 1:17PM

    @Rahimat Sadiq
    My dear friend in this case you will not find too many “true muslims” in the world.


  • Hasan
    Aug 9, 2011 - 2:01PM

    @Rahimat Sadiq:
    Are you taking prescription medicine? If yes, then please stop; if not, please immediately start!


  • Fortune Cookie
    Aug 10, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi
    Johannesburg – South Africa

    What are you doing in South Africa!!!!!!!

    Pakistan NEEDS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Fortune Cookie
    Aug 10, 2011 - 5:32PM

    @Rahimat Sadiq

    It is time for you to emigrate to Saudi Arabia mate!!!!!!!!


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