Tajik MPs urge president to prevent demolition of mosques in capital

Posted on September 3, 2007

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BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit
Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring

Three Tajik MPs have appealed to President Emomali Rahmon to prevent demolition and closure of mosques in Dushanbe. In their appeal Akbar Turajonzoda, Muhammadsharif Himmatzoda and Muhiddin Kabiri – former United Tajik Opposition leaders – condemn what they term “anti-Islamic and anti-constitutional” acts of the Tajik capital authorities and say that these acts have upset tens of thousands of Muslim people in the country. The following is the text of a letter published by the Tajik newspaper Najot on 9 August:

To the president of the Republic of Tajikistan, esteemed Emomali Rahmon […]

Mr President,The expansion of cooperation and multilateral ties with a number of progressive member-countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the attraction of their investment in various sectors [of our economy] is evidence of the fact that Tajikistan, as a country that the majority of its population are Muslims, is keen to improve its relations with Islamic countries as never before. Your visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and Syria and the signing of dozens of cooperation agreements with the governments of these countries prove this.

Unfortunately, while such remarkable progresses are observed in the foreign policy of Tajikistan, some circles inside the country take measures that not only damage the image of our country but also damage your prestige and reputation.

It should be mentioned that over the past several years a number of measures have been taken by the official circles to restrict religious activities and religious freedoms and rights.

The banning of women and young people from mosques, the expelling of girls wearing headscarves from universities and other educational establishments are examples of actions that certain interested circles have taken.

However, another wrong and foolish step – closing mosques and even destroying some of them and turning them into police stations has undoubtedly made tens of thousands of Muslim population of the country upset and unhappy. Moreover, the Muslim people are wondering as to where to pray as the upcoming holy month of Ramadan ushers in. [more]

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