After beards, hijabs, Tajikistan wants to ban ‘Arabic-sounding’ names

New legislation, if passed, would bar registration of names which are 'incorrect' or 'alien' to the local culture


Web Desk May 08, 2015
Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon has instructed the country's Parliament to consider a bill that would ban Muslim-sounding names in the former Soviet republic, officials said this week. Rahmon is shown here during an inauguration ceremony in Dushanbe. PHOTO REUTERS

In what is seen as an extension in an anti-Islam campaign, Tajikistan is deliberating on a legislation that, if passed, would see 'Arabic-sounding' names for newborns banned in the Muslim-majority country.

The drive has already resulted in men being forced to shave their beards and women who wear hijab being labeled as prostitutes.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has now directed his parliament to consider a bill that would restrain registration of names which are deemed to be ‘too Arabic’, said an official of the Ministry of Justice, Civil Registry department.

Official Jaloliddin Rahimov said, “After the adoption of these regulations, the registry offices will not register names that are 'incorrect' or 'alien' to the local culture, including names denoting objects, flora and fauna, as well as names of Arabic origin”.

Read: Tajikistan state TV says prostitutes are wearing hijabs to drive up prices

The move, however, may not remain confined to names of those born after the bill is passed. Some parliamentarian have reportedly demanded that citizens who have names that sound ‘Arabic’ should change them to ‘Tajik-sounding’ ones.

The ministry has also offered help to parents who could not come up with such a name on their own.


Muslims pray at the mosque in Dushanbe. PHOTO: REUTERS

Islam is the largest religion in the country with about 90% of the population Muslim.

The secular government has been worried by what it perceives as rise of Islam in unprivileged and poverty-hit villages which it claims are fast becoming fertile grounds for militancy.

Read: Iran rejects controversial new hijab law

The government has in recent times clamped down on beards and hijab; symbols of Islamic clothing. It has also moved to close independent mosques while prayer leaders have been encouraged to use their sermons to heap praise on the president.

On the other hand, human rights groups have been highlighting that Muslims are arrested on false pretenses, confusing faith with terrorism.

According to analysts, the latest measure would take a very wide net of population into its range if passed.

Interestingly, the president's name Emomali, a version of ‘Imam Ali’ who was the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and known as the fourth caliph for Sunnis and first imam amongst Shia Muslims.

The move has been met with some opposition, at least on social media:



The article originally appeared on The Guardian

COMMENTS (46)

Inner | 6 years ago | Reply @Mirza: It is up to the people what they want. It is not the government's job to tell people what to name their babies. And it is up to the people, to become Muslims or not, adopt Arabic names or not, wear shalwar kamiz or pant jean, or a Japanese Kamino. Regardless, it is their personal freedom, and the Government job is to protect people's personal freedom, not dictate it. It is ironic, how some people in the comment section want western ideologies, such as democracy, freedom of speech and expression, capitalism, but at the same time, they are supporting and demanding acts that go completely against such values, which makes me wonder, if such people even know what they are talking about, or what they want. They sound confused or mentally retarded something.
Inner | 6 years ago | Reply @Rana Malik: Why would you think banning personal freedom of individual citizens would stop criminals from committing crime? The government wont stop there, it would start banning, whatever it wants, regardless of what the people want. It would be worse than Kim Jon Un's North Korea. Perhaps, you may want to migrate to North Korea and experience such a society first hand. Don't complain, when you get jailed for not having the hair style the state wants you to have. Maybe you don't have any regard for your personal freedom, but I do.
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