To check radical Islamism, Tajikistan cops shave 13,000 men's beards

NEW DELHI: Tajikistan police is reported to have shaved nearly 13,000 men's beards and closed more than 160 shops selling traditional Muslim clothing to check "foreign" influences.

A report by Al Jazeera on Thursday said police in the central Asian Muslim-majority country also convinced more than 1,700 women to stop wearing headscarves in measures seen as the secular leadership's efforts to prevent influences from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Last week, Tajikistan's parliament banned Arab-sounding names, and marriages between first cousins, otherwise allowed in Islam.
Last year, Tajikistan's Supreme Court banned the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan - its only registered Islamic political party - following months of violence which the government blamed on radical Islam.

President Imomali Rakhmon, who has been ruling since 1994, is likely to ratify the new laws which seek to promote secularism and discourage foreign influences. Rahmon's current term ends in 2020.

Rakhmon, 63, who was a state farm boss in the Soviet era, has gradually consolidated his power during 23 years of rule over the predominantly Muslim nation of eight million that went through a 1992-97 civil war in which tens of thousands died.

Tajikistan's parliament is also considering a proposal to allow Rakhmon to run for an unlimited number of terms, cementing his grip on power as others have done in the Central Asian region.

The main opposition force, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, failed to win any seats in parliament in the election last March and has since been outlawed by Rakhmon's government, with its leaders accused of plotting a coup.


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