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Tajikistan|life|November 8, 2017 / 12:36 PM
Tajikistan targets unsanctioned foreign-educated clerics for firing to 'prevent extremism'
The head of the state-backed Council of Islamic Ulema of Tajikistan, Saidmukarram Abdulqodirzoda, announced his “readiness to resign...for the sake of the country’s stability.”

AKIPRESS.COM - Tajik authorities have pledged to dismiss many foreign-educated imams across the country in a move they say is aimed at averting religious extremism, the RFE/RL reports.

Tajikistan's state religious committee late last month set a deadline of mid-November for the heads of local government to replace imams who studied at religious schools abroad, outside of official channels, with “suitable” people.

The instruction further tightens the government’s grip on religious practices in the predominantly Muslim state of around 8 million, which until 2015 permitted post-Soviet Central Asia's only explicitly Islamic political party.

The committee said “some foreign-educated” religious figures had been involved in “spreading banned religious” teachings that promote a strict form of Sunni Islam.

Afshin Muqim, a committee spokesman, stressed on November 2 that the expulsion order does not apply to those who studied abroad “legally,” with Tajik government approval.

Earlier this year, seven imams in the northern province of Sughd were each sentenced to at least three years in high-security prison on charges that included membership in banned Islamic movements. The imams denied the accusation.

Authorities said the jailed imams had studied in foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Tajik officials say around 500 Tajik citizens are currently studying in Islamic schools abroad.

Tajikistan has outlawed Islamic head scarves at government institutions and frowned on them among the public as "foreign influences" and introduced a limit on beard length, which is seen as an outward sign of the Islamic faith.

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