Country with 90% Muslims bans Islamic-sounding names

Country with 90% Muslims bans Islamic-sounding names
Very strict measures are adopted to stop the emergence of the Islamic state in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, something seven young men from Tajikistan, three of them under the age of 18, experienced this weekend.

The men were arrested in the fall when they demonstrated in a town south of the country by hoisting the infamous black flag of ISIS, Aftenposten reports.

The demonstration took place at an ancient monument after an emir who founded an Islamic dynasty in Central Asia in the 800s, and some of the witnesses initially thought it was a boy prank.

On Friday the verdict came.

The youngest got seven years in prison, while the oldest was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

In addition to very severe penalties, the government of Tajikistan plans to prohibit names inspired by Islam. The Parliament began consideration of the law last Monday and the law will take effect from January.

Over the last decade, an increasing number of children in Tajikistan have been named "Muhammad", "Aisha" or names ending in "-mulla", "-amir", "-khalifa" or Sufi".

"It leads to divisions among people and should be outlawed," according to the country's Interior Ministry.

Parents who give their children such names, will not get the child legally registered.

"The authorities will refuse to register babies whose name is Arabic or foreign to our culture."

"Such parents will be offered a list of Tajik names", said the Interior Ministry when the proposal was put forward.

A list of 3,000 names which the authorities have approved have been made.

90 percent of the population in Tajikistan are Muslims. Until the 2000s it was unusual with hijab for women or Islamic inspired beard for men.

Over the last decade this has turned around and the authorities interpret it as a sign of rebellion.

On the International Women's Day on March 8, the country's president criticized anyone who used "foreign apparel", hijab or Islamic clothing meant to cover.

Since then, Muslim men have been arrested on the streets and their beard cut off by force at police stations in the country's capital Dushanbe.

A "ban" on printing in Arabic script was thought to be an attempt to prevent the publication of extremist literature, such as those of the extremist Islamic political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.

- Such repressive measures have both a deterrent - and an encouraging effect on radicalization, says Tajikistan expert John Heather Shaw to Radio Free Europe.

Human rights organizations are concerned about the situation in countries like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

The regimes in all these countries, which has remained in power since the Soviet Union was dissolved, strike down hard on anything perceived as threats.

This affects both Islamic fundamentalists, human rights activists and journalists.

Civil War

More than 100,000 people lost their lives in the civil war in Tajikistan, a war that erupted almost immediately after the fall of the Sovjet Union, but which was hardly mentioned with a word by mainstream media.

Around 1.2 million people were refugees inside and outside of the country.

All but 25,000 of the more than 400,000 ethnic Russians, who were mostly employed in industry, fled to Russia.

In the civil war, Iran-backed Islamists fought against the Russian-backed government forces, who won - and the government still remains in power.

A power they intend to keep by any means necessary.

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