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Top Tajik Islamic Body 'Left In Legal Limbo'

Culture Ministry official Saidbek Mahmadulloev said the council could still be reregistered.
DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's highest Islamic body says it has been left with no clear legal status because of a new law on religion, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Under the law passed last year, all religious organizations that were not reregistered with the Ministry of Culture by the end of last year are illegal.

Tajikistan's Council of Islamic Scholars has no such reregistration papers.

In comments to RFE/RL, Sheikh Amonulloh Nematzoda, the head of the council, blamed the problem on the directorate of religious affairs at the Ministry of Culture for not completing the reregistration of mosques across Tajikistan's districts and provinces.

The ministry's Saidbek Mahmadulloev said the council could be reregistered once more than 50 percent of mosques are reregistered and their representatives hold a congress.

The council has come under criticism by some experts who say it usually toes the government line and that a lot of well-known Islamic scholars are not included among its 20 members.

Tajikistan's Council of Islamic Scholars was created in 1997 to replace the four-year-old Muftiyat, or board for Islamic affairs.

From Soviet times until 1993, Islamic affairs were administered by the Tashkent-based Muftiyat of the Central Asian region.

Last week President Emomali Rahmon signed a decree reinstating the State Committee for Religious Affairs, but it remains unclear who will lead the reregistration process and if there are any new regulations.