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Tajik Parliament Chamber Approves Bill On Religion

Saidbek Mahmadulloev

Saidbek Mahmadulloev

DUSHANBE -- The Tajik parliament's lower house has approved a controversial bill on religious organizations.

The bill was promoted at parliament as giving equality to all religions, but Saidbek Mahmadulloev of the Culture Ministry told RFE/RL that the law gives priority to the Islamic branch of Hanafi, to which some 90 percent of Tajiks adhere to.

If approved, the draft law would ban the propagation of other religions.

The legislation also sets up new regulations for religious schools.

Classes in such schools should be held in rooms with desks and chairs. Among other restrictions, children would not be allowed to sit on the floor as is currently the practice in many religious schools.

The Tajik opposition, NGOs, and international organizations have criticized the bill for imposing limitations.

Leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party have challenged the legislation, saying that their alternative variant was ignored.