Tajikistan's attempts to keep secular state may produce converse effect

Tajikistan's attempts to keep secular state may produce converse effect

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 19 /Trend, V.Zhavoronkova/

The attempts of the Government of Tajikistan to keep secular state may lead to converse consequences and heat the situation, said Leonid Gusev, Russia's expert on Central Asia.

"The measures the Tajik authorities undertake to defend the secular state are regarded by many as unwarrantedly cruel, and the result of these measures appears to be quite converse" Gusev, a senior fellow at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Institute of International Studies, told Trend by telephone.

According to local news reports, in Tajikistan, children's learning at religious educational institutions is limited; parents who sent their children to abroad to learn at such educational institutions are under the threat of arrest.

School teachers in the south of Tajikistan from now on will be obliged to look for absent schoolchildren at mosques on Fridays; all schools in the region are given corresponding prescription, Interfax reported. The parents of schoolchildren, who will be caught at mosques, will have to write a letter of explanation telling why their children visit religious institutions at school time, and if this occurs again, such children and their parents will be reported about to the prosecutor's office.

In December 2010, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon submitted the bill "On Responsibility of Parents for Education of Children" to a nationwide discussion. The opposition and human rights activists are particularly concerned over the bill's provision that prohibits underage people visiting religious services except for the funeral repast.
Teaching the subject "Bases of Islam" was cancelled at schools.

As viewed by the expert, the subject's cancellation stemmed from a combination of factors, including fears of the authorities that the role of religion in the community will become stronger.
The events in the Arab world have also influenced upon the Tajik Government's position.
"They (the authorities) fear that demonstrations in Tajikistan may be held under Islamic slogans," Gusev said.

According to him, worthy of a note is the fact that there is the Party of Islamic Revival legally existing in Tajikistan. This Party may win votes and become popular: it won 7 percent of the votes at last elections; however, if the situation becomes unstable, its chances may increase substantially.

The political analyst says such cruel measures of the Government of Tajikistan may bring to a greater radicalization of the community.

"Therefore, the Tajik authorities are in a rather difficult situation now: banning is bad, not banning is fearful. I think the authorities need to find "the golden middle". Of course, this is rather difficult, but they have no other way-out," Gusev said.

In his opinion, the principal issue is who is to write religious books and who is to teach religion: discussion on this occasion is currently underway in Tajikistan.

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