Tajikstan passes law 'to stop Muslim women wearing hijabs'

'Everyone looks at them with concern, worried that they could be hiding something,' says Minister of Culture

Harriet Agerholm
Friday 01 September 2017 12:50 BST
Traditional dress for women in Tajikstan involves a scarf tied behind the head
Traditional dress for women in Tajikstan involves a scarf tied behind the head (Getty iStock)

Legislation requiring people to "stick to traditional national clothes and culture" has been introduced in Tajikistan - a move widely interpreted as an attempt to stop women from wearing Islamic clothing.

Women in the central Asian country traditionally wear a scarf tied behind the head, rather than a hijab, which wraps under the chin.

Despite being a majority Muslim country, Tajikistan's Minister of Culture, Shamsiddin Orumbekzoda, told Radio Free Europe Islamic dress was "really dangerous".

He said that "everyone" looked at women wearing hijabs "with concern, worried that they could be hiding something under their hijab."

Although the legislation – an amendment to an existing law on traditions in the country – did not mention the hijab specifically, authorities have previously said the Islamic veil represents an "alien culture".

Under existing laws, women wearing hijabs are already banned from entering the country's government offices.

At the beginning of August, officials approached more than 8,000 women wearing hijabs in the capital of Dushanbe and ordered them to wear their scarves in the Tajik style.

The new legislation does not introduce a penalty for breaking the rule, but some have claimed that fines could be introduced at a later date.

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