- Legislators in Tajikistan passed a new law requiring people to wear country’s traditional clothes
- Reportedly, the decision is intended to stop women from wearing Islamic clothes
- Women wearing hijab are already forbidden from entering the government offices, under the existing laws
New Delhi, September 5, 2017: A new law that requires people to “stick to traditional and national clothes” has been passed by the Tajikistan legislators, adding Tajikistan in the long list of countries that ban or limit Islamic dress.
Although the legislation hasn’t specifically mentioned “hijab”, but the authorities’ previous statements about hijab representing an “alien culture” makes their goal to discourage women from wearing Islamic hijab quite apparent.
Despite it being a Muslim majority country, Tajikistan’s minister of culture, Shamsiddin Orumbekzoda, talking to Radio Free Europe, called Islamic dress “really dangerous”.
“Everyone looks at them with concern, like they could be hiding something under their hijab,” he said.
Unlike Islamic countries, women in Tajikistan do not wear a hijab that is supposed to be wrapped under the chin, but a scarf that is tied behind the head.
Under existing laws, women wearing hijabs are already forbidden from entering the country’s government offices. In August, around 8,000 women wearing hijabs were approached by the government officials, in the capital of Dushanbe, who were then asked to wear their scarves in the Tajik style.
According to the Daily Mail report, police last year, in the Central Asian state, convinced 1,700 women to remove their headscarves, arrested 89 hijab-wearing prostitutes and closed down 162 shops and stalls selling hijabs.
The Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, while delivering his Mother’s Day speech in March, criticized women for wearing “foreign” black clothing. He had also criticized hijab in 2015, when he stated that blindly copying a foreign culture is not a sign of having high moral or ethical standards for women, as mentioned by the Al Jazeera.
While many citizens support the law considering the security and preservation of culture, many are polarized over its implications regarding personal liberties.
“I have to decide for myself what to wear. No one has the right to tell me ‘you have to wear this,’” Oinikhol Bobonazarova, a human right activist told RFE.
The new legislation carries no penalties as of now, but some have claimed that punishment or fines may be introduced later.
Tajikistan calls itself a secular state with a Constitution that provides for freedom of religion, however, the religious practice among the citizens of the Muslim majority country, seems to be tightly controlled by the state.
France, Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany are some of the many countries that have banned full face Islamic veils.
-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha