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    » 03/30/2009, 00.00

    TAJIKISTAN

    New synagogue of Dushanbe to open soon



    It will stand in a building given to the Jewish community by a rich banker. The old synagogue was demolished to build the new presidential palace. There is great fear in the country for religious freedom, especially for non-Islamic faiths, after the restrictive law promulgated last week.

    Dushanbe (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Jewish community of Dushanbe will soon have a new synagogue, thanks to a donation from a prominent businessmen. Serious restrictions of religious freedom are underway in the country, and are more severe for non-Muslims.

    The synagogue will be built in a few months, in the building (in the photo) donated by Hasan Assadullozoda, owner of Orient-Bank and the brother-in-law of Tajik president Imomali Rakhmon.

    The Jewish community is expressing great satisfaction. Its rabbi, Mikhael Abdurahmonov, has said that the new synagogue will be better than the previous one.

    The only synagogue in the capital was demolished last June, together with an entire neighborhood, in order to build the grandiose new presidential palace. The few hundreds of Jews in Dushanbe protested, in part because they did not have the money to build a new place of worship, and the government had promised to take care of the matter but then did nothing.

    The old synagogue was built at the beginning of the 20th century, when there were at least two Jewish neighborhoods in Dushanbe. It survived the Soviet period, and for the Jews was always a place not only to pray, but also to gather and carry out social activities on behalf of the needy.

    A restrictive new law on religious freedom went into effect in the country last week. It prohibits religious education for children under the age of seven and in private homes, permits the celebration of religious services only in places approved by the authorities, and allows the recognition of non-Muslim religious groups only if they have at least 400 faithful in rural areas, 800 in the cities, and 1,200 in the capital. 95% of the 6.5 million inhabitants are Muslim.

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    See also

    26/03/2009 TAJIKISTAN
    Tajik president Rakhmon signs law suffocating religious freedom
    Even while it was being drafted, the bill was criticized by the OCSE and the U.S. Prompted by the fear of Islamic fundamentalism, it puts under state control any activity connected to faith, institutes censorship of religious publications, and makes the legalization of non-Muslim groups almost impossible.

    17/03/2009 RUSSIA
    Medvedev steers religions toward young people, but blocks Jehovah's witnesses
    The Russian president is involving the traditional confessions in programs on behalf of young people. The Kremlin wants to reinforce relations with the Orthodox, make the Patriarch of Moscow a point of reference for all religions, and attribute a strong political value to his position. Jehovah's Witnesses accused of social isolation.

    10/03/2009 INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
    After jail, Christians pray for Saudi king Abdallah
    Fr. George Joshua was arrested in 2006 by the religious police, for celebrating Mass in a private residence. In 2007, he founded a group that has been joined by more than 500 people. They are praying for the well-being of the kingdom, and for freedom of religion. The priest invites Christians in India to make a "positive contribution to Saudi society."

    11/03/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
    Prison, whipping for 75-year-old widow: her nephew brought her bread
    The poor woman is suspected of seducing two young men. She even risks being kicked out of the country. There are criticisms of abuse of power on the part of the religious police, who watch over the morality and behavior of citizens, gravely interfering in individuals' private lives.

    24/06/2008 TAJIKISTAN
    Dushanbe’s old synagogue demolished to make way for a presidential palace
    A new complex complete with parks and fountain will be built, replacing an entire neighbourhood. About a thousand Jews are left in the country and they do not have the money to build a new synagogue.



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