Muslim-majority Tajikistan passes controversial bill to ban hijabs & curb Islamic influence

Tajikistan’s authoritarian and secular government is to ban hijabs and limit Eid celebrations, even though most people in the country are Muslim.

The controversial bill mentions curbing “alien garments”, although it’s really aimed at hijabs and other Islamic gear. The tightly controlled former Soviet republic has had an unofficial ban on the hijab in public places for a while.

The upper house,  Majlisi Milli, passed the law on June 19 along with curbing children’s festivities, including gift giving, during Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Children haven’t been allowed in mosques since 2011.

The oppressive government, which borders Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, has been trying to squash public expression of faith for years, and this latest more is another assault on the civil liberties of its Muslim population. More than 96% of the population is Muslim.

The ban has been condemned by the Union of Islamic Scholars and Clerics in Afghanistan and by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation. 

“Banning the hijab is a violation of religious freedom and such bans on religious attire should have no place in any nation that respects the rights of its people,” said CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor. “We condemn this draconian, repressive law and urge the Tajik government to reverse this decision.”

President Emomali Rahmon has run Tajikistan with an iron fist since 1994. He’s accused of repressing political opponents, violating human rights, corruption and nepotism.

Tajikistan’s war on Islamic expression

The freedom to practise Islam has been under assault in Tajikistan for years. Authorities have been enforcing an unofficial hijab ban, with police conducting regular marketplace raids. Men have also been compelled to shave their beards against their wishes.

In 2007, the government began with a ban on hijabs in educational settings, later expanding it to all other public institutions.

President Rahmon established a special commission in 2017 to create a “suitable” dress code for citizens after criticising women for wearing “foreign” black attire.

This sparked a campaign against the hijab, with institutional leaders ordering employees not to wear it at work.

The government temporarily shut down all Islamic bookstores in the capital in 2022, citing violations of religious law. The following year, officials suggested that bloggers should not grow beards.

In recent years, the government has promoted traditional Tajik clothing through various campaigns. These efforts included sending widespread text messages encouraging people to wear traditional outfits. In 2018, the government published “The Guidebook Of Recommended Outfits In Tajikistan.”

Last year, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom commented on Tajikistan’s situation: “As part of an effort to maintain complete, authoritarian control over all segments of society, the government of Tajikistan commits systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

“The Tajik government has placed undue restrictions on all facets of religious practice, including prayer, celebrations, education, and rituals.”

FUND HONEST INDEPENDENT MUSLIM JOURNALISM

Donate today and help us tell the stories that matter. Together we can make a difference

Donate today and help us tell the stories that matter.
Together we can make a difference

The mainstream media has been justifying genocide in Gaza. Islamophobia and censorship are the norm. We're changing that. Our journalism has reached over 300M impressions on social media since October 7th. On TV, our rolling news coverage has featured key figures like Husam Zomlot, Avi Shlaim, Gideon Levy and Jeremy Corbyn.

We need your support to reveal the truth and ensure our voices are heard. Donate today.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

TOP STORIES

RELATED STORIES

HELP ENSURE MUSLIM
VOICES ARE HEARD

Donate today

and help us tell the
stories that matter.

Together we can
make a difference

The recent UK elections showed us all the importance of community activism. With your support, we can do even more to make sure Muslim voices are heard. Help us amplify the voices of those speaking out and hold the new government to account. Together we can highlight Islamophobia, call out prejudice and fight for justice for Palestine.

We need your support to reveal the truth and ensure our voices are heard. Donate today.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Islam Channel
Media House
428-432 Ley Street
London
IG2 7BS

+(44) 207 374 4511