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Tajik Police Bar Young Believers From Eid Prayers

Tajik Police Screen Mosque Visitors
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WATCH: Tajik police stop and check young Muslims attending mosques (in Tajik)

DUSHANBE -- Tajik police stopped young people under 18 from entering mosques on August 31 for Eid al-Fitr prayers celebrating the end of Ramadan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Police officers deployed at the entrances to the main mosques in Dushanbe refused entry to young believers without checking their documents. Police did not offer any explanation for doing so. Similar scenes were also reported at the main mosques in other cities.

The controversial recent law on parental responsibility bans most children under the age of 18 from attending regular Friday Prayers in mosques.

But under the law youngsters should be allowed to pray at mosques during religious festivals like Eid al-Fitr and at funerals.

There are no restrictions on children and teenagers who study at religious schools attending mosques.

The law was proposed for public discussion last December and signed by President Emomali Rahmon on August 2, the second day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Council of Islamic Leaders of Tajikistan expressed support for the law, while the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan and several prominent religious leaders criticized it.

Respected religious leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda said earlier this month that the law is "openly against the will of God."

Turajonzoda also criticized an amendment to the criminal code approved by parliament on June 15 that makes the opening of illegal religious schools punishable by between five and 12 years in jail.

Previously, running such illegal schools incurred only an administrative punishment or a fine.

Read more in Tajik here