2010-12-03 17:14:00

Iran asked to transfer Tajik religious school students to secular universities

Dushanbe, December 3, Interfax - The speaker of the lower chamber of Tajikistan's parliament, Shukurjon Zuhurov, asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to help transfer Tajik students studying at Iran's religious academies to secular universities at a meeting in Tehran on Thursday, the Tajik parliament press service said.

"Today our republic needs engineers, doctors, lawyers and other top-class specialists much more than it needs mullahs," Zuhurov said.

Earlier, Dushanbe simply asked Tehran to return such students, forcing them to become migrant workers or join the unemployed.

"Tajikistan has a sufficient number of its own madrassas and the Islamic University. The country's Islamic center also sends a required number of citizens willing to receive religious education to foreign theological institutions every year," Zuhurov said.

In late August, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said he was seriously concerned about Tajik citizens studying at religious universities abroad who return home as "terrorists and extremists".

Rahmon demanded that the parents of such students return them to Tajikistan immediately.

More than 1,000 Tajik citizens who attended religious universities in Egypt, Iran and Pakistan returned to Tajikistan at the end of November.

Dushanbe claims that all of them returned home "voluntarily", but, according to local media reports, officers of Tajik special services "worked with all of the students for a long time to persuade them to go back" to Tajikistan.