Tajikistan, with 95% Muslim population, imposes ban on hijab

President Rahmon Emomali, in his official statement, said that the move was aimed at “protecting ancestral values and culture”

Muslim-majority Tajikistan is set to impose a ban on hijab after the country’s parliament approved the law referring to it as an “alien garment.” The move comes as the government continues its efforts to put an end to public religiosity and the promotion of Tajik culture.

Moreover, the central-Asian nation where over 95 per cent of the population is Muslim, has also banned the custom of ‘eidi‘, children seeking money during Eid, in the country.

The hijab ban is the country’s latest development to promote its “secular identity.”

President Rahmon Emomali, in his official statement, said that the move was aimed at “protecting ancestral values and culture”. Earlier, he had also called hijab a foreign clothing.

Tajik-based Asia-Plus news reported that those violating the law will be subjected to hefty penalties, ranging from 8,000 to 65,000 Somoni which is equivalent to Rs 60,560 and Rs 5 lakh. Government officials and religious authorities who fail to abide by the new law will face much higher fines equivalent of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh respectively.

The bill to ban hijab was passed on June 19 during the 18th session of the upper house of the Tajik Parliament. In its bill, the house also approved the ban on children’s celebrations on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

In recent years, the Tajikistan government has been taking active steps to curb public displays of religiosity and actively promoting its culture by encouraging people to wear Tajik national attire.

Beards of 13K men shaved

In 2016, BBC had a report alleging that the Tajik police shaved the beards of 13,000 men and shut down 160 shops selling hijab as part of an “anti-radicalisation campaign.”

The report said that thousands of men were incarcerated for “adopting mannerisms alien and inconsistent with Tajik culture.” It said that maintaining a beard was considered among the gravest of offences.

Moreover, President Emomali had also warned the Tajiks that “even in mourning, women must wear white and not black,” as black is commonly associated with burqa.

Hijab ban in schools

According to an Al Jazeera report, published in 2005, Education Minister Abdudjabor Rakhmonov had called for a hijab ban in schools, stating that wearing the hijab was unacceptable in secular schools as it violated the constitution.

He had also expressed his concerns about children spending too much time in mosques at the expense of their education. “Many spend evenings in mosques and do not do their homework,” he had said during Ramzan 2005.