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Tajik Clerics' Fatwa Sparks Concerns

Tajik nongovernmental organizations and independent journalists have voiced concern with a fatwa by Tajikistan's Ulemas (Islamic clerics) Council barring Muslims from "cooperation with destabilizing media outlets" and criticizing the government.

The fatwa was announced at mosques during Friday Prayers on September 26.

The fatwa says it is "a great sin" for Muslims to engage in any antigovernment activity and to cooperate with any media outlet, political group, and local or foreign organization whose goal is to destabilize Tajikistan.

Rahmatillo Zoirov, chairman of the NGO Judicial Consortium, told RFE/RL on September 29 that the fatwa contradicts Tajik laws since Tajikistan is a secular country, has several registered political parties, and guarantees freedom of speech under the constitution.

Marat Mamadshoev, the chief editor of the news website Catoday, told RFE/RL that the Tajik prosecutor-general must give its assessment of the fatwa.