Tajikistan shaves beards off 13,000 men to tackle extremism

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Police in Tajikistan have forcibly shaved beards off nearly 13,000 men and ‘convinced’ 1,700 women to remove their headscarves in a bid to tackle extremism.

Tajikistan, a Muslim majority country with a secular government, has ordered the crackdown which is aimed at reducing “foreign influences” to eradicate radicalism as there are thought to be up to 2,000 Tajik militants fighting the Islamic State in Syria, according to Radio Liberty, a central Asian focused blog, who sourced the official Tajik news agency.

The head of the Khatlon police, Bahrom Sharifzoda, showed the local media a “before and after” picture of one man that had been shaved. Police “brought to order” men whose beards were deemed “too long and unkempt”.

Further, police said they had ‘convinced’ 1,700 women to remove their headscarves, arrested 89 hijab-wearing prostitutes and closed down 162 shops and stalls selling hijabs.

The parliament also voted last week to ban Arabic or “foreign-sounding names” after a rise in babies named Muhammad.

Tajikistan is under threat from militants as thousands of home grown extremists aligned with Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, have joined forces with the Islamic State on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border.

In September, Tajikistan’s only Islamic party was banned from the political system. The country’s president President Emomali Rahmon, has been in power since 1994 and his current term ends in 2020.