24 October 2011, 12:54
Clinton reminds Tajikistan of freedom of religion
Dushanbe, October 22, Interfax - The freedom of religion must be guaranteed unconditionally by every state, United States Secretary Hillary Clinton said in Dushanbe on Saturday.
The two-day visit by the head of the U.S. State Department to Tajikistan began a day earlier.
We are absolutely certain that the fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of religion, must be guaranteed for all people, Clinton said at a meeting with Tajik public figures.
I believe that everyone has the right to practice their faith, but no one has the right to impose any restrictions on the faith of another, she said.
Everyone must have the right to their religion. I disagree with the restrictions of the freedom of religion, Clinton told a press conference after her meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon.
Tajikistan has officially banned students of secular schools from wearing a hijab. Hijabs are also prohibited for all female public servants and employees - at hospitals, polyclinics, libraries, banks, ministries and government departments and local authorities.
With the passage of the bill on religion in Tajikistan in March 2009 the country has legalized state censorship of the religious literature, the administering of sacraments is officially restricted to designated places of worship, and the state is allowed to control the activities of religious organizations. Also, in August 2011, a bill was passed on the parental responsibility, banning minors from visiting churches and mosques, unless it is related with memorial services.
A potential and sure step is to register and legalize religious communities, which will rule out the underground practicing of faiths. And this will reduce discontent among the public, the U.S. State Secretary said.
For years we have seen in the world that if you tell people that they have no right to do something, they will still find a way of doing it, Clinton said.
One needs to look at the consequences of our restrictions, she said.
The Tajik authorities have accounted for the tough religious regulations by the need to rein in the growing extremist public sentiments and to preserve secularism in the state.
Of course, we do not want to do something that would feed extremism. We are fully aware of the concern of members of the public and the government in this respect, the U.S. Secretary of State added.