01 September 2010, 15:18
President Rahmon urges Tajik women not to wear hijabs
Dushanbe, September 1, Interfax - Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has voiced discontent over the "foreign" Muslim clothing style of many women in the country.
"I often see women in the streets of the capital, who wear religious headscarves to copy the style of clothing in other countries," Rahmon said on Wednesday while visiting the Tajik National University.
"If you are grateful to this country [Tajikistan] for its culture, then you would be happy with this (Tajik) style of clothing, which is much more liberal than that of other countries," the president said.
"Be grateful to this freedom. If you like the clothing style of another country, I will send you there," the Tajik leader said jokingly.
The parents of children attending religious schools abroad should bring them back home, because the Muslim headscarf, hijab, is not part of the Tajik culture, Rahmon said earlier.
About 98% of Tajikistan's population are Sunni Muslims. However, under the country's Constitution, Tajikistan is a secular state, and wearing Muslim headscarves totally covering the body and hair is prohibited in public schools. Some female students tried to sue the Education Ministry over this but none of them were successful.
The Tajik national culture allows wearing colorful headscarves tied up behind, leaving the woman's neck and part of hair in the open. Hijabs are considered a recent export to the Tajik culture from other countries.