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Tajik Authorities Criticized For Restricting Access To Religious Website

Prominent Tajik religious figure Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda

Prominent Tajik religious figure Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda

DUSHANBE -- A prominent Tajik religious and political figure has criticized authorities for restricting access to his religious website, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda told RFE/RL today that restricting access to is unconstitutional, because the website is not political.

The State Communications Service issued a directive, a copy of which was shown to journalists on May 19, ordering internet providers to restrict access to the site because of "a technical problem." As of May 20, the website could only be accessed by using proxy servers.

The website was created by Turajonzoda and his brothers a year ago. Since then, it has had more than one million visits.

Turajonzoda is a former head of Tajikistan's Muslims, a former deputy prime minister, and one of the former leaders of the Tajik Islamic movement. His brothers are also well known religious leaders is devoted to Islamic issues. The Turajonzoda brothers use it to publish their views, and sometimes answer questions from site visitors about religious issues.

Several new books by Turajonzoda were recently posted to the site. Visitors can also listen to sermons by prominent Islamic leaders at Friday prayers.

During the military operation in Tajikistan's eastern Rasht district last fall, authorities similarly restricted all communications with the eastern part of the country, citing "technical problems,"

The precise nature of these technical problems was never made public.