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Tajik Authorities Close Down Madrasah, Express Concern At 'Islamization'


QURGHON-TEPPA, Tajikistan -- Authorities in the southern Tajik town of Qurghon-Teppa have closed down a madrasah prosecutors linked to "Islamization" -- and fined five mosques for sanitary reasons, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

According to the city prosecutor, the Islamic school, which taught some 90 local children, lacked registration.

However, in a meeting with a group of intellectuals, Jumanazar Saidaliev expressed concerns over Islam's increasing popularity among young people, saying it would pave the way for the "Islamization" of society.

"Under the current circumstances in Tajikistan, any attempt at the Islamization of society would lead to the creation of political Islam in the country, which is not a good prospect," the prosecutor said.

"It would destabilize the political situation, and break the balance and harmony between secular people and moderate, pious Muslims," Saidaliev warned.

In a separate development in Qurghon-Teppa, five mosques -- including one housing the madrasah -- were ordered to pay fines for what city authorities called "poor sanitary conditions."

If the mosques fail to provide the proper sanitary facilities needed for the ritual washing performed before prayers, their activities will be suspended, the office of Qurghon-Teppa's city mayor told RFE/RL.

Earlier this year, the city authorities destroyed a downtown mosque for its lack of official registration.

Some local residents accuse the authorities of using any pretext to close down prayer houses.

The office of the mayor, however, rejected the criticism, saying, "there are 12 officially registered mosques and three other non-Islamic prayer houses in the city that function freely, without any problem."
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