Tajik Senate approves bill prohibiting minors from visiting Mosques, Churches

Dushanbe, July 21, Interfax – The Tajik parliament’s upper house has unanimously approved a bill “On the Responsibility of Parents for Upbringing and Education of Their Children”, which prohibits minors from visiting mosques and churches.

The bill will enter into force as soon as it is signed by President Emomali Rahmon and published in the official media.

Rahmon submitted the bill to the parliament last December.

“The agitation of certain media outlets and civil society representatives is unfounded,” Senator and Tajik State Medical University Rector Ubaidullo Kurbonov said.

“Article 8 of the law, which regulates relations between the younger generation and religious organizations, does not infringe on constitutional rights of the young. On the contrary, it protects them,” he said.

The article says that parents “must not allow their children to take part in the activity of religious organizations with the exception of cases in which the children are students of religious schools.”

The article provoked criticism by Western countries, human rights defenders, the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, clerics and local Christian communities. The authorities justified the ban with the growing rate of extremism and the need to preserve the secular nature of the state.

“I am confident that this law primarily aims at the protection of interests of the younger generation in Tajikistan,” Senate Speaker Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloyev said.

He praised the Senators and deputies who approved the law on June 15 “for continuing to adopt laws that have no analogs in world legislative practice.”