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Tajikistan Bans Hijabs and Restricts Eid Celebrations

June 22, 2024
Tajikistan Bans Hijabs

Tajikistan’s parliament passed a new bill this week that formally prohibits the wearing of hijabs and other “alien garments” during Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the two major Islamic holidays. The move marks a significant escalation of the country’s longstanding restrictions on Islamic attire and traditions.

The legislation, enacted on June 19 by the upper house of parliament (Majlisi Milli), comes after years of an unofficial ban on the hijab in the Muslim-majority nation. Violators of the new law face hefty fines. Individuals caught wearing banned religious clothing could be fined up to $700, while companies allowing such attire for employees could face penalties exceeding $3,500. Even steeper fines await government officials and religious leaders who breach the regulations.

The bill also restricts children’s participation in traditional festivities and gift-giving associated with the Eid holidays. Authorities claim these restrictions are for the “proper education and safety” of youngsters.

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The Tajik government has expressed concerns about the growing popularity of Islamic dress styles from the Middle East, which they view as a threat to national identity and potentially linked to extremism. President Emomali Rahmon publicly referred to the hijab as “foreign clothing” in a March address, promoting traditional Tajik attire as an alternative.

This new law formalizes existing limitations on Islamic expression in Tajikistan. Since 2007, the hijab has been banned for students, with the restrictions eventually extending to all public institutions. Additionally, authorities have discouraged men from growing long beards, with reports of police forcibly shaving them in recent years.

Human rights organizations have denounced the hijab ban as a violation of religious freedom. With nearly 98% of the population identifying as Muslim, the law is expected to face significant backlash within Tajik society as it goes into effect.

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