Tajikistan initiates wide scale demolition of Mosques

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 05:39:23 -0000

Following a January decision by the mayor of Dushanbe that “unapproved”
mosques in the Tajik capital be demolished, the process of demolition
has begun. Keston News Service witnessed the demolition in February of
three mosques which had been built in violation of the city plan. Some
of the Muslims watching were weeping. Muslim leaders have complained
about how difficult it is to get new or existing mosques registered, and
more than 100 mosques in Dushanbe without state registration appear to
be threatened with demolition. Tajik law does not specifically ban the
functioning of unregistered places of worship, although state officials
often claim that it does. 
 
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In the wake of a decision by the mayor of Dushanbe at the end of January
that “unapproved” mosques in the Tajik capital be demolished, the proc
ess of demolishing such mosques has begun. Keston News Service witnessed
the demolition in February of three mosques in the Frunze district of
Dushanbe, which had been built in violation of the city plan. A crowd of
some 100 Muslims gathered to watch the demolition and some of them wept.
More than 100 mosques in the city without state registration appear to
be threatened. Muslim leaders have complained about how difficult it is
to get new or existing mosques registered. 

On 30 January Dushanbe’s mayor, Mahammadsaid Ubaidulloev, chaired a
meeting of the leadership of the city administration devoted to a review
of the work of all the city’s services over the past year, at which
Keston was present. As well as the leaders of the city’s services,
representatives of the clergy from Dushanbe and elsewhere in the
republic were also invited. The mayor sharply criticised the activity of
Hizb-ut-Tahrir (the international Islamic organisa tion, banned in
Tajikistan, which calls for the unification of all Muslims worldwide
into a single caliphate) and urged that “this evil be pulled up by the
roots from Tajik land”. He said that every day several activists and
propagandists of this party are picked up by the law-enforcement
agencies. 

Ubaidulloev spoke out sharply against the unofficial operation of over
120 mosques in Dushanbe. “The number of mosques is already greater than
the number of schools in the capital,” he complained. “As of today the
doors of all unregistered mosques should be sealed and together with
other unapproved constructions they are subject to demolition if they do
not meet the requirements of the city planning department.” 
In reply Mullah Faizullo, the imam-hatyb of Dushanbe’s Sari Osie central
mosque, said that it was very difficult to register a mosque as the
authorities engage in deliberate delay. Mullah Faizullo said that the
process of registering a mosque often drags on for years and urged the
city authorities to provide support for the building of mosques.
Ubaidulloev replied that the decision to demolish unapproved
constructions had already been taken and nobody would be shown any
indulgence. 

Ubaidulloev’s decision means in effect that of 120 mosques only the
seventeen which are registered will continue to operate. 

Muhiddin Kabiri, deputy chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of
Tajikistan, told Keston by telephone from Dushanbe on 15 March that he
was not surprised by the mayor’s decision. “About three weeks ago at a
demographic conference Tajik president Emomali Rahmonov already drew
public attention to the fact that the number of mosques in the republic
was close to the number of schools, which he said was not acceptable in
a secular state.” He claimed that under Tajik law unregistered mosques
cannot function. “The law is the law a nd we must submit to it. It’s
another matter that indeed the registration of mosques often becomes a
prolonged bureaucratic procedure.” 

Despite his claims, Tajik law does not specifically ban the functioning
of unregistered places of worship - although state officials often
pretend that it does. 

Source:  Keston News Service
 

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