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Tajikistan Opens 'Secular-Religious' High School

Students attend the new "secular-religious" school in Dushanbe.

Students attend the new "secular-religious" school in Dushanbe.

DUSHANBE -- The government has officially opened the "secular-religious" Imam Abu Hanifa high school in Dushanbe, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Said Ahmadov, a school official and former head of the state Religious Affairs Committee, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that the school teaches Islamic and modern subjects according to a plan from the Education Ministry.

He said some 70 percent of students' time is spent studying Islamic subjects and 30 percent in classes such as English, Tajik, literature, and science.

The school, which is supported by the Swiss government, currently has about 20 teenagers attending it.

Student Hikoyat Safarova, who can recite most of the Koran in both Arabic and English, told RFE/RL that she has wanted to study Islam and modern subjects together since she was a child.

The first lessons in the school began in September.

Tajik expert Ghaffor Mirzoev said that secularism is not an enemy of religion, as some Tajiks believe, and such an example like the Imam Hanifa school can help find a compromise between the two.