KHATLON, Tajikistan -- Twenty underground religious schools with a total of 189 students have been discovered over the past week in Tajikistan's southern Khatlon district alone, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Khatlon police chief Abdurahmon Buzmakov said on October 25 that the private unregistered schools, some based in the homes of mullahs, were illegal. He said 20 teachers who were detained in the past week did not have formal permission from the State Religious Affairs Committee and local administrations to teach Islamic studies to children. Up to 130 children have been studying in such schools in the Qubodiyon and Qumsangir districts.
In recent years, authorities have intensified their control over nongovernment teaching, and RFE/RL reports from Qurghonteppa that many parents now opt to teach their children about religion at home.
Tajikistan's president and education minster have called on parents to bring home their children studying at Islamic universities abroad lest they become "terrorists and extremists." Dozens of such students have already returned to Tajikistan.