President denounces “alien” forms of clothing and his police follow up by issuing warnings to women wearing hijab.
The authorities in Tajikistan have launched an official campaign to stop women wearing “hijab” or Islamic styles of clothing.
Tajikistan’s population is overwhelmingly Muslim, but officials see the hijab and other outward expressions of the faith – like beards for men – as a sign of extremism, and possible links to outlawed radical groups. They frequently jail people for joining organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and in recent months they have been concerned that Islamic State is recruiting Tajiks.
In a March 6 speech, President Imomali Rahmon said hijab was alien to Tajik tradition, and he encouraged women to wear national dress instead. Long dresses and headscarves are still a common sight in Tajikistan, and are usually brightly multicoloured instead of the black associated with the hijab.
Soon afterwards, local officials ordered the closure of shops selling Islamic styles of clothing for women, and police started stopping women in the street and threatening them with penalties unless they discarded the hijab.
For more on this issue, see In Battle With Radical Islam, Tajik Police Attack Beards.
Yosuman Jamshed is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.