Friday, June 29, 2012 -
Tajik authorities said Friday they are converting mosques into teahouses as part of government measures to stem unsanctioned religious practice in the secular but mainly Muslim country.
The prosecutor’s office in southern Khatlon province said it has turned 75 illegal mosques into tearooms, first-aid stations, libraries, and school classes since January.
Since the start of the year, 229 mosques were caught operating in the province without having an official permit from the country’s religious authorities, according to a senior official of the Khatlon prosecutor’s office.
“The founders of 61 mosques have since applied for registration and the fate of the remaining 93 mosques will be decided by local authorities,” the official, Tolibjon Azimov, told the independent Tajik online news outlet Asia-Plus.
The country’s health authorities have also found many mosques to lack proper sanitation.
Only around 180 of some 1,100 officially sanctioned mosques in Qurghonteppa region of the province have been given an official clean bill of health from local sanitary and epidemiological agencies, he said.
Around one in 10 mosques in the district around the province’s other city of Kulob have certificates from health authorities, Azimov said.
The Khatlon Agency for Environmental Protection has also recorded dozens of other violations of environmental standards, he said.
The government of President Emomali Rahmon has fought a years-long battle to maintain control over religious extremism in the ex-Soviet state bordering Afghanistan, a major source of drugs, weapons, and militant Islamic ideology.