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Tajikistan cracks down on the spread of Islam, considers ban on Arabic-sounding names

Tajikistan Muslim Name Ban: Parliament Considers Forbidding Arabic-Sounding Names Amid Crackdown On Islam
rtx15g0tTajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon has instructed the country’s Parliament to consider a bill that would ban Muslim-sounding names in the former Soviet republic, officials said this week. Rahmon is shown here during an inauguration ceremony in Dushanbe. Reuters

Tajikistan may ban Muslim-sounding names amid a growing fear of Islamic radicalization in the former Soviet republic. President Emomali Rahmon has instructed the country’s Parliament to consider a bill that would forbid the justice ministry from registering names with Arabic origins, officials said this week.

“After the adoption of these regulations, the registry offices will not register names that are incorrect or alien to the local culture, including names denoting objects, flora and fauna, as well as names of Arabic origin,” said Jaloliddin Rahimov, a justice ministry official, according to the Russian nongovernmental news agency Interfax. While the bill would apply only to babies born after it is signed into law, there is also a growing push by parliamentarians to encourage those with Arabic-sounding names to change them to those that are traditionally more Tajik.

The growing popularity of names associated with Islam, such as Aisha, Asiya and Sumayah, as well as the addition of traditionally Islamic suffixes at the ends of names, including -khalifa and -amir, have left authorities in the Muslim-majority country uneasy.

The government recently stepped up a crackdown on devout Muslims, which has included restrictions on who can make the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and on outward signs of religiosity, such as beards and hijabs. Some devout Muslim men have complained of forcible beard shavings by security services, with officers reportedly telling detainees that having beards was against “state policy,” Agence France-Presse reported in April.


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