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Hey Tajik Students, Why Not Just Stay in Egypt?

Protests in Egypt have convinced Tajik students there to go home, but no one in the government is listening.
Tajik authorities seem to be in no rush to bring home the dozens of Tajik madrasah students who are trapped in Egypt and pleading with their embassy in Cairo to help them leave.

This comes as a surprise considering Tajik authorities, including President Emomali Rahmon, have for months been urging parents to bring their children back from foreign madrasahs. Otherwise, he said, the child risks becoming a terrorist.

Diplomats in Cairo say that since antigovernment protests in Egypt began last month, some 100 Tajik students have told the embassy they are willing to go home.

"Tear gas bombs were exploding near our dormitory ... and besides, the administration of the dormitory says they won't guarantee our security," Sabohiddin Homidov, a madrasah student in Egypt, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service.

But the authorities remain unmoved.

"According to the information we have, the situation in Egypt is relatively calm, and many offices and shopping centers are functioning in Cairo. If the situation continues like this, possibly there will be no need to bring home our citizens," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Davlat Nazriev.

Some Tajiks genuinely believe Nazriev's explanation. Others suspect the embassy may be facing financial difficulties to buy travel tickets for the students.

A few others whisper that Tajikistan simply is too afraid to bring back religious school students who -- on top of everything else -- have possibly learned a few lessons about how to stage a revolution.

-- Farangis Najibullah