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Tajikistan: New Law on Religious Organizations

(Apr. 3, 2009) On March 26, 2009, the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rachmon, signed into law a recently adopted bill on freedom of conscience and religious organizations. Preserving the status of Tajikistan as a secular state, the new law requires all religious communities to take the interests of the state, state security, and national values into consideration. Religious political parties are prohibited, and the influence of religious organizations on the political process will be limited. The law declares Islam to be a traditional religion of Tajikistan, with more rights and privileges given to Islamic organizations than to religious groups of non-Muslim origin. Also, the law recognizes Hanafi, one of the Muslim legal and theological schools, as the official religious legal philosophy of the country.

The law requires state registration of all religious organizations; state review of religious literature published in or imported into Tajikistan; government participation in appointments of clergy; government certification of teachers or providers of religious education; and limits on religious gatherings, education, and conduct of religious ceremonies to buildings formally recognized as religious buildings (e.g., mosques, churches), which can be built only in those settlements where no less than one hundred people permanently reside. Securing the separation of state and religion, the law prohibits clergy as well as all staff of religious organizations (e.g., hospitals run by religious communities) from being appointed or elected to the bodies of state authority. The law was reviewed and criticized by international human rights organizations, including the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. (Law on Religion is Signed [in Russian], NEWSRU INFORMATION AGENCY, Mar. 27, 2009, available at