Tajik culture under threat? Emomali Rahmon bans hijab in Muslim-majority Tajikistan. Here’s the story so far

The hijab ban in Tajikistan is President Rahmon's latest move to reduce public religiosity. The new law restricts the import, sale, and wearing of 'foreign' clothing, with violations attracting fines up to three lakh Indian rupees.

Sudeshna Ghoshal
First Published24 Jun 2024, 12:00 PM IST
Tajikistan passes bill on hijab ban, with over 90% muslim population. Experts mention Rahmon's grip on power and politics.
Tajikistan passes bill on hijab ban, with over 90% muslim population. Experts mention Rahmon’s grip on power and politics.(PTI)

Tajikistan's parliament approved a bill to ban the hijab on Friday, June 21. The decision follows years of restrictions on religious attire, with President Emomali Rahmon referring to the hijab as part of "foreign clothing," Dushanbe-based independent news agency Asia Plus reported.

Hijab ban: The story so far

The bill restricting the use of the hijab was passed in the 18th session of the upper house of Parliament, Majlisi Milli. The house banned "alien garments" and children's celebrations for the two most important Islamic holidays—Eid al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Over a month earlier, on May 8, the lower chamber of the country's parliament, Majlisi Namoyandagon, approved the bill. With hijab, an Islamic scarf at its centre, the bill targets traditional Islamic clothing.

Also Read: Hijab ban: Tajikistan parliament approves bill prohibiting ‘alien garments’ and Eid celebrations by children

Why the ban: Tajik culture at stake?

Rahmon’s hijab ban comes as part of his agenda to promote ‘Tajiki’ culture, aimed at reducing visible public religiosity. As the head of what Rahmon deems a secular state, the ban is deeply rooted in his politics and grip on power.

Emomali Rahmon ruled for 30 years, ever since he served as the President of the Central Asian country from 1994. The president has been positioned against more religious political parties, reported The Indian Express.

Also Read :Veteran Tajik president on course for fifth term

Under Rahmon's rule, Tajikistan has undergone a series of changes–the hijab ban being the latest. One of the massive changes came in 2016, following the amendments to the Tajikistan Constitution to remove the limit on the number of presidential terms. He has also banned faith-based political parties that could challenge his own.

Also Read: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan resume flights after 25 years

Increasing religiosity post-Soviet Union split?

Experts mention that the Tajik president’s sweeping measures could come after the increasing religiousness evident after the Soviet Union split. In 2015, Massoumeh Torfeh, a former spokesperson for the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan and journalist, wrote in Al Jazeera “ New mosques have been built attracting more people for prayer, more Islamic study groups have appeared and more women and men have donned Islamic-style dress. At the same time, Islamist armed groups have been active in the border areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.”

Also Read : Hijab ban in West Bengal? Teacher resigns after college diktat offends ‘religious sentiments’; authorities say THIS

Hijab Ban: What Now?

The new law restricts the “import, sale, promotion and wearing of clothing deemed foreign to the national culture”. According to Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, violations may attract fines ranging from 7,920 Tajikistan somonis for individual offenders to 39,500 somonis, around three lakh Indian rupees.

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First Published:24 Jun 2024, 12:00 PM IST
HomeNewsworldTajik culture under threat? Emomali Rahmon bans hijab in Muslim-majority Tajikistan. Here’s the story so far

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