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Tajikistan Passes Bill to Ban Hijab Despite 98% Muslim Population

Tajikistan officially banned the hijab, imposing hefty fines in its latest move to curb Islamic influence.

Beni Mellal – The Central Asian nation of Tajikistan officially prohibited the wearing of hijabs and other “alien garments” this week, as the country’s parliament passed a new bill regulating Islamic clothing and Eid celebrations.

The bill, approved by the upper house of parliament, Majlisi Milli, on June 19, comes after years of an unofficial clampdown on the hijab in the Muslim-majority country.

Under the new law, individuals wearing hijabs or other banned religious clothing could face hefty fines of up to 7,920 somonis (approximately $700). Companies allowing employees to wear prohibited garments risk penalties of 39,500 somonis ($3,500). Government officials and religious leaders face even steeper fines of 54,000-57,600 somonis ($4,800-$5,100) if found in violation.

The bill also restricts children’s participation in festivities and gift-giving traditions associated with the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Government officials stated these measures aim to ensure “proper education and safety” of children during the holidays.

Tajikistan has seen an influx of Islamic clothing from the Middle East in recent years, which authorities view as linked to extremism and a threat to the country’s cultural identity. In a March address, President Emomali Rahmon referred to the hijab as “foreign clothing.” The government has long promoted traditional Tajik national dress as an alternative.

The new law represents an escalation of Tajikistan’s unofficial restrictions on Islamic garb. Since 2007, the hijab has been banned for students, with the prohibition later extending to all public institutions. Authorities have also informally discouraged bushy beards in men, with reports of police forcibly shaving thousands of beards over the past decade.

Human rights organizations have criticized Tajikistan’s hijab ban as a violation of religious freedom. With Muslims comprising over 98% of the population, the law is likely to face significant opposition within Tajik society as it goes into effect.