The government of Tajikistan has been forcibly shaving the ‘long’ and ‘unkept’ beards of its men. According to a report by BBC News, the government ordered the crackdown on around 13,000 men in the year 2015.
The crackdown is a part of a government’s campaign to targets trends that are considered alien and inconsistent with Tajik culture after there were unofficial reports of around 2,000 Tajiks fighting for Islamic State in Syria.
“They called me a Salafist, a radical, a public enemy. And then two of them held my arms while another one shaved half of my beard”, said Djovid Akramov who was apprehended outside his house by policemen for his beard as per a report by BBC News.
The move is aimed at promoting Tajikistan’s secular image in a bid to distance itself from ‘radical’ Islam. However, it is not the only initiative as there are other such measures, some of which were implemented in the past.
Some of them include:
- Official ban on wearing hijabs (headscarves) for women in schools, colleges and state offices, 160 shops selling hijabs have been closed
- Ban on Arabic-sounding “foreign” names as well as marriages between first cousins
- Ban on ‘alien’ values and culture, with women not being allowed to wear ‘black’
Despite having a Muslim majority population, Tajikistan has always promoted secularism to discourage beliefs and practices which are seen as foreign or a threat to the stability. In September , 2015, the Supreme Court of the country had banned the only registered Islamic political party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. The President Emomali Rahmon who has been ruling since 1994 was recently given life-long immunity from prosecution by the parliament in December 2015.