President Wulff should demand respect for the freedom of religion in Tajikistan

The president of Tajikistan visits Berlin (December 14, 2011)

According to a letter from the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) to Federal President Christian Wulff, he should demand from Tajikistan's president, Emomali Rahmon, to ensure respect for the freedom of religion in the Central Asian region. Tajikistan is known to strictly observe religious activities and to prohibit some of them - which is why various Muslim and Christian communities are no longer able to exercise their faith freely. The repressive regime of President Rahmon was trying to stifle any extremist movement, but obviously achieved the opposite effect: The human rights organization warns about young people turning away from the state towards the Islamists.

Around 97 percent of the seven million Tajiks are Muslims. But - as the STP wrote to Wulff - women and children are not allowed to visit mosques. Hundreds of students who wanted to study at Muslim institutions abroad were called back. Religious literature is censored and trade is monitored by the authorities. The community of Jehovah's Witnesses was classified as "extremist" without any clear evidence. Members of a banned "extremist" group can be arrested and prosecuted almost any time. Legal proceedings against 17 members of the Jehovah's Witnesses are still underway. Most of the Jehovah's witnesses have already left the country.