Tuesday, November 03, 2015

USCIRF Urges Secretary Kerry To Raise Religious Freedom Issues With Tajikistan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is currently on a trip to various countries in Europe and Central Asia.  In anticipation of his arrival in Tajikistan today, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a press release yesterday strongly criticizing Tajikistan's "ongoing efforts to  control religious activity" and urged Secretary Kerry to raise religious freedom concerns with officials in Tajikistan.  USCIRF said in part:
The legal environment for religious freedom in Tajikistan has deteriorated recently, largely to the implementation of the 2009 religion law which: establishes onerous registration requirements for all religious groups; criminalizes all unregistered religious activity as well as private religious education and proselytism; requires official permission for religious groups to provide religious instruction and communicate with foreign co-religionists; and imposes state controls over the content, publication, and import of all religious materials.
The Tajik government imposes additional restrictions on Muslims such as: limiting the number and size of mosques; closing hundreds of unregistered mosques and prayer rooms; and demolishing three unregistered mosques in Dushanbe. The Tajik government pays imams’ salaries in the largest mosques and restricts the preaching of sermons to these mosques.  Muslim prayer officially is allowed only in mosques, cemeteries, homes, and shrines. As of October 2015, Tajik authorities reportedly are prohibiting government employees from attending Friday prayers.