With little discussion, Tajikistan’s parliament recently approved a number of government-proposed amendments to legislation. These amendments impose additional restrictions on religious education for Tajik nationals both at home and abroad. Young Tajiks seeking to study Islam abroad will now find it increasingly difficult or impossible to do so, and their options for studying religion at home will be limited to a few government-sanctioned schools. As a result, people wishing to learn more about the religion will have little other choice but to seek such education from clandestine groups.
BACKGROUND: On May 25, the lower chamber of Tajikistan’s parliament approved changes to the 2009 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, most commonly known as the “Religion Law”. The changes introduce two mandatory requirements for Tajik citizens wishing to study religion abroad. The first requirement is to graduate from a similar level school offering religious education within Tajikistan. The second prerequisite is permission from the country’s Ministry of Education and Committee for Religious Affairs (CRA). These restrictions effectively bar young Tajiks from foreign Islamic schools because few people in the country would be able to meet both requirements.