TAJIKISTAN: Loudspeakers banned from unregistered mosques
Unregistered mosques in the capital Dushanbe may no longer broadcast the call to prayer through loudspeakers, local Muslims told Forum 18 News Service, but officials denied that any decree had been issued. Shamsuddin Nuriddinov of the religious affairs department of the city administration admitted to Forum 18 that the authorities had "requested" the leaders of unregistered mosques not to use loudspeakers for the call to prayer. Nuriddinov believes unregistered Muslim places of worship cannot be regarded as mosques and are operating illegally.
The spokesman for the Tajik muftiate, Said Negmatov, told Forum 18 on 28 August that he had "not heard anything" about a decree from the city authorities and could therefore make no comment.
The imam-hatyb of Dushanbe's central mosque Khabibhon Azimjanov proved better informed. "I have indeed heard about such a decree," he told Forum 18. "In fact it was not even a decree, just a verbal request." He said the order did not affect his and other large mosques, and that the central mosque was still using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer as before.
"It is possible that some old people who find it hard to reach the larger mosques would like the call to prayer to be made using loudspeakers in their mahalla [city district], but times change," Azimjanov added. "Around ten years ago calls to prayer were broadcast on the radio, but that is now impossible!"
The head of the religious affairs department of the city administration, Shamsuddin Nuriddinov, admitted to Forum 18 on 28 August that the authorities had "requested" the leaders of unregistered mosques not to use loudspeakers for the call to prayer.
However, he believes that only registered Muslim places of worship may be regarded as mosques. "According to Tajikistan's law on religion, registration is obligatory and therefore unregistered religious associations are operating outside the law," Nuriddinov insisted to Forum 18. In fact there is nothing in the law on religion about a requirement to register.
28 August 2003
When Tajikistan's only synagogue is demolished next year in the capital Dushanbe as part of city reconstruction plans, the Jewish community – which built it a century ago - does not know if it will get compensation. "A general reconstruction of the city centre is being planned, and unfortunately our building turned out to be in that sector," Rabbi Mikhail Abdurakhmanov told Forum 18 News Service. "However, the authorities could have held a meeting with the Jews and avoided demolishing the only synagogue in the whole of Tajikistan." Rabi Aliyev of the government's committee for religious affairs told Forum 18 he did not know either if compensation is planned.
31 July 2003
Following a speech by President Emomali Rakhmonov stating that three suspected Tajik terrorists have been held by the USA in Guantanamo Bay, the operation of a medressah (Islamic educational institute) in northern Tajikistan is being prevented, 152 mosques were closed down, loudspeakers removed from many and 20 per cent of Imams removed from office, Forum 18 News Service has learned. State officials claimed that there were too many mosques. There have also been claims that the authorities compel written confirmation from young couples that they will marry in the "European manner", with music and dancing. This claim has been denied by the local official dealing with religious affairs.
29 July 2003
A Baptist has been fined five times the minimum wage (57 Norwegian Kroner, 8 Euros or 8 US Dollars) for "talking to passers-by about God", and threatened with property confiscation if he does not pay the fine, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. The fine has been imposed even though Tajikistan's 1994 law "On Religion and Religious Organisations" does not prohibit either religious gatherings in private homes or street evangelisation.