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Tajikistan Wants Students At Islamic Schools Abroad To Return

DUSHANBE -- Tajik students studying at Islamic universities abroad are complaining that Tajik authorities are pressuring their parents to persuade them to return home, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

In August, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon asked parents to recall their sons and daughters from foreign madrasahs and universities lest they join extremist or even terrorist groups.

A Tajik student named Abdurashid, who studies at Cairo's prestigious Al-Azhar University, told RFE/RL that despite the school's strong reputation as one of the world's best Islamic universities, his parents were urged by Tajik officials to try to get him to return to Tajikistan.

Tajikistan's Committee for Religious Affairs has even begun compiling a database of all Tajik students enrolled at foreign madrasahs and Islamic universities. Most of those students study in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran.

Mavlon Mukhtorov, the deputy head of the committee, told RFE/RL that 1,432 names had been entered in the database, which he said was not yet complete.

Mukhtorov confirmed that the Tajik authorities will continue their efforts to bring all those students home to study locally, including at the state-run Islamic Institute in Dushanbe. He stressed that none of them would be prosecuted if they returned to Tajikistan.