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Tajiks To Distribute Koran, Constitution To Counter Radical Islam

QURGHONTEPPA, Tajikistan -- The head of Tajikistan's southern Khatlon Province has announced new measures intended to stem the spread of radical Islam in the region among young people, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Ghaybullo Avzalov said on February 15 that by the end of the year copies of the Koran translated into Tajik and the country's constitution would be distributed free to 400,000 households in the province.

Homes would also be given copies of a law on national traditions and a proposed law that stipulates parental responsibilities for raising children as law-abiding citizens. The proposal could ban children under the age of 18 from attending prayers at mosques.

Avzalov said the measures would contribute to the social and religious education of Tajikistan's younger generation.

But Azimjon Vahhobov, the deputy head of the Islamic Renaissance Party in Khatlon, said the local administration was being inconsistent.

He said that on the one hand, the authorities were signaling support for Islam by distributing copies of the Koran. But on the other hand, they might prohibit young people from praying in mosques and ban women from wearing the hijab.

Mayrambi Ghafurova, the Khatlon provincial official responsible for children's' rights, confirmed that if the draft law is ratified and signed by President Emomali Rahmon, minors would be barred from attending prayers at mosques.