KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 23 November 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

TAJIKISTAN: CRACKDOWN ON DUSHANBE'S UNREGISTERED
MOSQUES. As Muslims in Tajikistan mark the holy month of Ramadan,
the city authorities in the capital Dushanbe are cracking down on
unregistered mosques in line with a resolution adopted in September,
Keston News Service has learnt. Muslims fear that the authorities will try
to close down unregistered mosques, which far outnumber registered
mosques in Dushanbe. A city official insisted to Keston that mosques
must be registered in order to function and said that it the number of
unregistered mosques increased, it would be �more difficult to control
their activity�. �Then mosques could become centres of extremism and
could destabilise the situation in the republic.�

TAJIKISTAN: CRACKDOWN ON DUSHANBE'S UNREGISTERED
MOSQUES

by Igor Rotar and Vali Sairabekov, Keston News Service

As Muslims in Tajikistan mark the holy month of Ramadan, the city
authorities in the capital Dushanbe are cracking down on unregistered
mosques in line with a resolution adopted in September, Keston News
Service has learnt. Muslims fear that the authorities will try to close down
unregistered mosques, which far outnumber registered mosques in
Dushanbe. A city official insisted to Keston that mosques must be
registered in order to function and warned that unregistered mosques
could become a meeting place for extremists.

Dushanbe city people's deputies adopted the resolution to identify and
investigate unregistered religious organisations at their session on 19-20
September. "The need for such an investigation arose some time ago," the
responsible official at the city administration, Aziz Kholmuradov, told
Keston on 19 November. "Lately, several mosques have been built in the
city and there are now more than 150 of them. However, most of these
mosques are unregistered. We are concerned that supporters of radical
Islam, particularly members of the banned Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir
and the Wahhabis, may gather in these mosques. Therefore, if believers
want to meet in a mosque, they must first get it registered." (Wahhabis are
followers of the purist brand of Islam followed in Saudi Arabia, but the
term is often used more widely - sometimes incorrectly - by officials in
Central Asia.)

However, in practice it is not simple to register a mosque. "Collecting the
necessary documents has become a long and tortuous process," mullah
Varif of Dushanbe's Mirvokoron mahalla (city neighbourhood)
complained to Keston on 19 November. "Even if all the documents are
collected, the district lawyers demand permission for registration from the
Ministry of Justice, which in its turn states that it is not empowered to
issue such a document."

However, Kholmuradov believes it is right that registering mosques
should be difficult. "There are already nine registered mosques operating
in the city: four serve the districts and five serve the mahallas - that
number of mosques is perfectly sufficient. If the quantity of mosques
grows, it will be more difficult for us to control their activity. Then
mosques could become centres of extremism and could destabilise the
situation in the republic." (END)

Copyright (c) 2001 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.