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Tajikistan Takes On Beards, Foreign Madrasahs


Men under the age of 50 are reportedly being discouraged from growing beards.

Men under the age of 50 are reportedly being discouraged from growing beards.

Tajikistan seems to be determined to meet a government deadline to return home all its students studying in unofficial foreign religious schools.

Authorities say 1,432 Tajik students have already retuned home from madrasahs in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, and have vowed that another 300 will soon be on their way.

It was President Emomali Rahmon who initially raised the issue in August, telling parents that students attending foreign madrasahs risked becoming terrorists and extremists.

Rahmon brought the topic up anew during a cabinet meeting this week, again issuing the order for the return of Tajik youth from abroad.

Tajik authorities appear to be taking the presidential instruction seriously. A new law on holding parents responsible for their children's actions and education is being drafted by lawmakers.

Precautionary measures to prevent extremism reportedly go beyond focusing on foreign madrasahs and their Tajik students. The latest is that men below the age of 50 are being discouraged from growing beards. According to one report, a passenger in southern Khatlon region was reportedly taken off a flight to Russia because of his bushy beard.

And Odina Maruf, an imam of a mosque in the Vahdat district in Dushanbe's suburbs, recently complained he was summoned by the local police and questioned over his "reasons" for growing a long beard.

Tajik officials, however, flatly deny the claims, saying no one has been detained or questioned for merely growing a beard.

-- Farangis Najibullah
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