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The miniskirt is again falling victim to secular Central Asian governments' ongoing battle against the Islamic hijab.

Uzbek officials have said that Islamic hijab as well as European-style tight-fitting, revealing clothes are "alien" to Uzbek culture.

Speaking in a 25-minute long, prime-time television program aired this week, Uzbek officials and doctors cited health and security reasons to condemn both the hijab and the miniskirt.

"Some religious extremist women carried guns under their hijab," warned an official from the state religious committee in the television program called "Tahdid" ("Threat").

The hijab can also cause oxygen and calcium deficiencies, warned doctors. As for women who wear miniskirts, they were advised to dress with "moderation" to prevent susceptibility to all kinds of infections and other unspecified health problems.

The long-suffering miniskirt first came under attack in neighboring Tajikistan by education authorities whose real target was the Islamic headscarf. They officially banned the hijab and European-style clothes in schools, advocating instead Tajik traditional dress.

However, in Tajikistan it was widely believed that the miniskirt was just a smokescreen to protect the Education Ministry from all kinds of criticism.

But Tajik women could offer some advice to their Uzbek neighbors by telling them "don't pack away your miniskirts just yet."

Because, while a number of Tajik girls were excluded from schools and universities in the past two years for refusing to take off their hijabs, no one so far has been expelled or barred from schools for wearing miniskirts.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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