( Reuters ) - Tajikistan is launching a crackdown on witchcraft and fortune-telling as part of an anti-poverty drive after earlier banning lavish weddings and expensive funerals.
Occultism is on the rise in Muslim Tajikistan. It is the poorest nation in ex-Soviet Central Asia, borders Afghanistan and was ravaged by a 1992-97 civil war. Queues to see sorcerers are often longer than those for regular doctors.
"Those indulging in sorcery and fortune-telling shall be fined between 30 and 40 times the minimum monthly wage (85 to 113 pounds)," says the text of a draft law backed by the lower chamber of the Tajik parliament on Wednesday and obtained by Reuters.
The draft law has to be passed by the upper house and signed by President Imomali Rakhmon to become law. But this is widely seen as a formality.
Rakhmon, in power since 1992, earlier this year imposed heavy fines on extravagant weddings and funerals. He set out strict limits for the ceremonies, including the number of guests, meals and cars.
He also ordered the Tajik anti-corruption watchdog to investigate the incomes of students riding in expensive cars or using posh cell phones.