Tajikistan awaits UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

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The Tajik authorities have invited a UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to visit the country. Sulaimon Davlatzoda, chairman of the Committee for Religious Affairs, Streamlining National Traditions, Celebrations and Rites, announced this on February 3 at a press conference in Dushanbe.

According to Davlatzoda, the invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur has already been sent.

The head of the Committee on Religious Affairs spoke about the invitation of the UN Special Rapporteur in response to a question from Radio Ozodi about the restriction of religious freedoms in Tajikistan, for which the Tajik authorities are constantly criticized by international human rights organizations and Western countries. Thus, in the annual report of the US State Department on religious freedom in different countries of the world, it is noted that since 2016, Tajikistan has been on the black list of countries violating religious freedoms.

The authors of the report, published last year, wrote, in particular, that the authorities restrict the religious freedoms of citizens despite the fact that the Constitution of Tajikistan guarantees the rights and freedoms of everyone, regardless of their religion, and Article 26 states that “everyone has the right independently determine their attitude to religion, profess any religion or not profess any, participate in the performance of religious cults, rituals and ceremonies.

Sulaimon Davlatzoda once again denied accusations of violating the religious freedoms of citizens. Earlier, the Committee on Religious Affairs, Streamlining National Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies stated that the report of the US State Department does not reflect the real situation with religious freedoms in Tajikistan. In Tajikistan, as a rule, all their decisions to restrict any freedoms are justified by the fight against extremism and the radicalization of society.

Tajikistan, in particular, has been criticized for banning women from visiting mosques and praying there. “The decision that women should not pray in the mosque was made by the Islamic Center of Tajikistan on the basis of the teachings of the Hanafi madhhab. Women are not allowed to pray in the mosque, not only in Tajikistan, but in all countries of the region. So it was in the days of the Emirate of Bukhara,” Sulaimon Davlatzoda said at a press conference on February 3.

International human rights organizations say that the Committee on Religious Affairs of Tajikistan controls not only the appointment of imam-khatibs, but also sermons in mosques. Sulaimon Davlatzoda, in response to this criticism, noted that the sermons prepared by the Islamic Center for imam-khatibs are advisory in nature.

Tajikistan is a Muslim country, but the authorities have imposed a ban on people under 18 from visiting mosques, and in recent years, some prominent clerics have been suspended from preaching in mosques.

Source: Radio Liberty