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THURSDAY, March 5, 2015

Central Asia

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Tajik religious body to issue fatwa banning divorce by text message

Tajik religious authorities plan to ban the practice of divorcing via text message

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - Tajikistan’s religious authority, the Council of Ulema, said Monday it is set to issue a fatwa banning divorce by text message.

The state religious affairs committee said that the “triple talaq” ritual whereby a Muslim husband can divorce his wife by reciting the term three times, will not be permitted via SMS message.

“Talaq” is the term Muslims use to declare a divorce.

The move comes as the number of so-called SMS-divorces have reportedly risen, particularly among families where the husband is living abroad as a migrant worker. Although official statistics do not exist, local media say hundreds of cases are known.

"Our country's laws prohibit men from divorcing their wives over the phone," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported Abdurahim Kholiqov, chief of State Committee on Religious Affairs, as telling reporters in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Monday.

"It is against Tajik laws and it is un-Islamic,” he said.

The state religious committee and the Council of Ulema discussed this issue, and the council will announce its decision very shortly, Kholiqov said.

The head of Tajikistan’s Islamic University agreed that the act breaches Islamic law and called on people to respect family values and protect their marriages.

"This is a wrong and unfair act that violates women and children's rights," RFE/RL reported university head Umarali Nazarzoda as saying.

Lawyers say the wives and children of SMS-divorces are often left destitute because the migrant husbands, who usually are not officially registered in Russia and elsewhere, cannot be found.

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