2013-06-17 12:33:00

Secret religious schools with kidnapped pupils discovered in Tajikistan

Tajikistan, June 17, Interfax - Tajikistan has exposed the operations of secret religious schools where the pupils who study there have been kidnapped from their parents, the press service of the Tajik Interior Ministry reported on Monday.

Two such schools were discovered - one in Gissar District (20 kilometers away from Dushanbe), and one in Shahrinav District (40 kilometers).

"Abdusalom Rajabov, a 48-year-old resident of Shahrinav District, detained a few days ago on suspicion of kidnapping told the police about the illegal theological schools," the press service reports.

A five-year-old boy was reported missing in Dushanbe on June 9. Eye-witnesses said he had been taken away from the courtyard by an unknown man. The kidnapping and disappearance of children in Tajikistan is extremely rare and each case provokes a strong public reaction.

'The detainee confessed that he had abducted the children with the purpose of their further education at illegal religious home schools. A corresponding check fully confirmed Rajabov's testimony," the ministry note.

The police who made surprise appearances at the schools discovered the recently abducted boy from Dushanbe and nine other children from different parts of Tajikistan there. The ministry says that many of the children were from poor families and some of the parents did not even report their disappearances.

"The detained self-proclaimed clergymen had taught religion to children in insanitary conditions and without a corresponding permit, i.e. illegally. Besides, they kept the children by force and previously committed another grave crime by kidnapping them," the press release says.

A criminal case was launched, and the teachers were detained.

About 99% of Tajikistan's population of 8 million are Muslims, mainly Hanafites. Experts note that the role of Islam is steadily growing with more and more Tajiks becoming influenced by studying in radical schools. In 2012 150 people in Tajikistan received criminal sentences for religious extremism.