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Tajikistan to officially ban Islamic hijab after years of unofficial crackdown

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Thousands of women in Tajikistan are being forced to choose between pursuing a career or wearing the Islamic hijab, amid increasing crackdowns by Dushanbe authorities.

Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, Radio Ozodi, reports that despite the lack of formal legislation banning the hijab, authorities have been enforcing an effective ban in schools and workplaces.

Recently, the Tajik parliament adopted draft amendments to the law on “traditions and celebrations” that will formally prohibit wearing, importing, selling and advertising “clothes alien to Tajik culture.” This term is widely used by officials to describe Islamic clothing.

Amendments to the code of administrative violations were also approved, imposing hefty fines for wearing such attire. Individuals could face fines up to $740, while legal entities could be fined $5,400. Government officials and religious authorities face even higher penalties.

Tajik lawmaker Mavloudakhon Mirzoyeva was quoted as saying: “The amended version of the draft law includes a ban on clothes deemed foreign to Tajik culture.”

These draft laws are expected to be approved by the upper house of parliament and signed into law by President Emomali Rahmon.

Several Dushanbe residents expressed their opposition to the ban, believing that people should have the freedom to choose their clothing. Many Tajiks feel the new amendments will merely formalise an unofficial ban that has existed for years.

The government’s clampdown on the hijab began in 2007, extending to all public institutions and leading to market raids and street fines. Authorities have promoted national dress, sending messages in 2017 urging women to wear Tajik clothes and releasing a 376-page guidebook on recommended outfits.

Additionally, Tajikistan has unofficially banned beards, with thousands of men reportedly having their beards forcibly shaved by police over the past decade. This is also the case in neighbouring Uzbekistan, where in 2021, it was reported that police have been forcing dozens of practising Muslim men to shave their facial hair.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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