DUSHANBE -- Public health authorities in the southern Tajik city of Kulob have begun checking sanitary standards in the city's 50 mosques, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
The city's senior public health official, Jamshed Rofiev, confirmed that purification rooms, prayer halls, and lawns surrounding mosque buildings are being inspected.
Rofiev also said there was no truth in rumors that the inspections are intended to prevent mosques from functioning normally.
Vohidkhon Qosidinov, deputy chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, conceded that hygiene in mosques is important, but he expressed the fear that the inspections could be a pretext for closing mosques.
Domullo Kholmurod said conditions at the mosque in Kulob of which he is imam have already been checked and found satisfactory.
Mavlon Mukhtorov, deputy head of Tajikistan's State Committee for Religious Affairs, said that a sanitary inspection is one of the prerequisites for registering a place of worship. He denied his committee initiated the inspection of mosques in Kulob.
There are currently 3,348 mosques open for daily prayers, 330 Friday mosques and 31 central Friday mosques registered with Tajikistan's State Committee for Religious Affairs.