DUSHANBE -- Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has signed a law that bans most children under the age of 18 from attending regular Friday Prayers in mosques, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
The controversial law, which was proposed by Rahmon in December and adopted recently by parliament, holds the parents of underage children attending Friday Prayers legally responsible for allowing them to do so.
The law does allow children and teenagers who study at state-run religious schools to attend mosques and join religious associations. But other teenagers may pray at mosques only on religious festivals and at funerals.
Officials have said the law aims to prevent children from falling prey to Islamic radicalization.
The law was published in the country's state-run print media on August 2, which brings it into force.
One prominent critic of the law, religious leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda, told RFE/RL that teenagers need to attend prayers regularly from the age of 12-18 in order to learn how to live their lives.
Turajonzoda said the fact that Rahmon signed the law "on the second day of the holy month of Ramadan adds to the frustration and anger [felt] by Muslims in Tajikistan."
Parliament Deputy Muhiddin Qabirov, from the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan said that even though the law is in force, ordinary people will most likely ignore it and continue to allow their children to pray in mosques, as Tajikistan is a predominantly Muslim country with a long Islamic history.
Qabirov said police will have to go to every mosque in order to look for illegal underage worshippers.
He added that instead of stepping up their efforts to protect the population, police will be "fighting with young children and their parents in mosques, which is ridiculous."
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