Rahmon says no to veil and beard, calls for respect for Tajik tradition

Tajik president says that the veil and black dresses are not in line with the country’s culture, and the beard is not a sign of religiosity. Tajiks should "love God with their hearts" and not seek to show their "righteousness" through external attributes.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews/RFE) – Tajik President Emomali Rahmon is calling on the people in the predominantly Muslim country not to wear beards or hijabs.

Speaking yesterday, Rahmon praised ten-year-old legislation governing rituals and traditions in the Central Asian state he has ruled since 1992. Tajikistan has a population of some 8.5 million people, mostly Muslims.

Rahmon said that hijabs (veils) and black dresses for women are not in line with Tajikistan's traditions, and that beards are not necessarily a reflection of religiosity.

He called on Tajiks to "love God with their hearts" and not seek to show their "righteousness" through external attributes.

Tajiks should preserve what he called the "true culture of Tajiks" and resist "alien cultures and traditions" he said were being propagated on the Internet.

Tajikistan has banned head scarves for schoolgirls, barred minors from mosques, and forced thousands of students to return home from Islamic schools abroad in recent months amid reports that many Tajiks have joined militants in Iraq and Syria.

Moreover, Tajik authorities have banned the pilgrimage to Makkah for people under 40.

In 1999, Tajikistan was the first and only country in the former Soviet Union to officially register an Islamic political party.

However, in 2015, the Islamic Revolutionary Party of Tajikistan was banned and declared a terrorist organisation by the Supreme Court of the country.