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Government Believes Freedom of Religion Is Guaranteed in Tajikistan

Thursday 29 September 2011

DUSHANBE (Interfax) – Tajikistan does not permit manifestations of religious fanaticism but observes all provisions concerning the freedom of conscience and religion, deputy head of the Tajik State Committee for Religious Affairs Mavlon Muhtorov said.

He spoke in Warsaw at a working meeting of OSCE on the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Interfax obtained the texts of speeches made there. “Tajikistan has guaranteed the freedom of conscience and religion and takes corresponding measures to establish relations of tolerance and respect between believers and non-believers, between religious associations of various creeds and their followers,” Muhtorov said. “At the same time it does not allow manifestations of fanaticism or extremism in the operations of religious associations or individual citizens,” he added.

To substantiate his point he said that Tajikistan is the only Central Asian country to have a legally functioning religious party, the Islamic Renaissance Party that is even represented in the country’s parliament.

In Tajikistan, there was a civil war between the government and armed Muslim rebels who sought to create an Islamic state. It lasted from 1992 to a formal cease-fire in 1996, drifting into 1997. While this was the bloodiest clash between Islamic extremists and an established government in the region – more than 100,000 people were killed – that the Islamic Renaissance Party, the main leader of the Islamist fighters, joined the government in 1997 in an uneasy power-sharing arrangement that has been relatively peaceful.

The principal efforts to combat Islamic extremism and terrorism have been through various multilateral regional organizations. First among these is the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO), established in 1996. It began as an economic cooperation but after the 9/11 attacks, it took on more of a security role. The four members are Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. Russia joined CACO in October 2004. However, successful economic development will be essential to weaken the appeal of religious extremism.

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