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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07DUSHANBE376 2007-03-20 07:47:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Dushanbe
Cable title:  

TAJIK GOVERNMENT RETAINS STRONG CONTROL OVER ISLAMIC

Tags:   PGOV PHUM KISL TI 
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VZCZCXRO9853
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHDBU #0376/01 0790747
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 200747Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9810
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2016
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2053
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2025
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1447
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000376 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/20/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KISL TI
SUBJECT: TAJIK GOVERNMENT RETAINS STRONG CONTROL OVER ISLAMIC
LEADERS


CLASSIFIED BY: TJACOBSON, AMBASSADOR, STATE, STATE.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)


1. (C) SUMMARY: Mufti Domulloh Khudoyberdi of Tajikistan's
Council of Ulamo called PolOff to his office March 16 to retract
his statements during a meeting with the Ambassador and visiting
U.S. OSCE Ambassador Julie Finley March 7. The Mufti explained
that he would like to convey additional information to the
Embassy, but at the time he was unable to share openly and
truthfully his opinions fearing his words would be relayed to
the government. END SUMMARY.

COUNCIL OF ULAMO ISSUES STANDARDIZED SERMON



2. (C) As Tajikistan's head Mufti, Khudoyberdi expressed his
grave concern about the limits on practicing Islam in
Tajikistan, including the influence of the Council of Ulamo,
which serves as an advisory body for Tajikistan's Islamic
community. The Chairman of the Council of Ulamo, Amanullo
Nematzoda, recently passed out a draft sermon to be distributed
to imams across Tajikistan. The Council will instruct imams to
preach from the sermon and not to deviate too far from its
message. Khudoyberdi repeatedly expressed disappointment with
Nematzoda whom he touted as a government stooge with no
scholarly Islamic background. Khudoyberdi suspects the chairman
did not draft the sermon himself, but rather the government
ordered him to disseminate the draft sermon as the puppet leader
of the religious Muslim community

MUFTI ADMITS FATWA WAS WRONG



3. (C) Khudoyberdi also criticized the Nematzoda for issuing
the 2004 fatwa prohibiting women from praying in mosques, even
in areas separated from men. In the March 7 meeting with
Ambassadors Finley and Jacobson, Khudoyberdi explained that the
reasoning behind the fatwa was because in Tajikistan,
traditionally, women had never gone to the mosques to pray and
the Koran does not say that women should pray in mosques. On
March 16, the Mufti apologized for his stock answers that all
imams relay. He explained that he actually would like to see
more women attend mosque because they are the caretakers and
teachers of Tajikistan's children and are influential in shaping
the next generation's perspective. The Islamic Renaissance
Party of Tajikistan defied the fatwa and has established a
mosque where women can also pray. Although Khudoyberdi is in
favor of women praying in mosques, as long as the present
Chairman remains in power, the Council of Ulamo is not in a
position to defy the government, which pushed the Council to
issue the fatwa.

SECULAR EDUCATION IN ISLAMIC SCHOOLS



4. (C) The revamping of the curriculum in Islamic schools
represents a new development in Tajikistan's Islamic community.
According to media reports, a pilot project funded by the Swiss
Cooperation Office will set up a new curriculum with secular
courses that will better educate madrassah students and Islamic
University graduates and empower them to be more competitive in
the job market. (COMMENT: The new curriculum's influence
remains to be seen. Although any increase in secular education
is a benefit to Tajikistan, this could also serve as a way for
the government to dilute religious education. In turn, a weak
system of religious education could drive young people to seek
religion elsewhere. END COMMENT.) Khudoyberdi was
disappointed at the state of religious education in Tajikistan
and admitted that the Islamic University churns out unqualified
students. He pointed out that like other higher education
institutions, the standards are low and teachers untrained.

A NON-INDEPENDENT MOSQUE



5. (C) Khudoyberdi began the meeting by advising PolOff never
to schedule a meeting with more than one Tajik interlocutor at a
time. Khudoyberdi explained that if there is more than one
Tajik in the room, one of them may be a National Committee for
State Security agent. Even if no one in the room is truly from
the National Committee for State Security, participants will
still refrain from speaking out against the power structure in
fear that their words would leak out. Khudoyberdi revealed that
every Friday the National Committee for State Security (formerly
the Ministry of Security and still referred to as the Soviet
name "KGB") would send an official to survey the worshippers at
Dushanbe's Central Mosque and report suspicious activity.



6. (C) Khudoyberdi admitted that he no longer worries about
government retribution. If the government dismisses him from
his position as Tajikistan's Mufti and revokes his pension, he

DUSHANBE 00000376 002 OF 002


is confident that the community will take care of him
financially. As a younger man, he would not have dared to speak
out against the government, but he has nothing to lose in his
old age and as a devout religious leader, mourns the
deterioration of Islam in Tajikistan.



7. (C) COMMENT: Khudoyberdi's revealing comments confirm the
government's continuing watchful eye on Islamic activities in
Tajikistan. Police still round up children found in mosques
when they should be in school. Officials shut down unregistered
mosques. Although the government's activities are based on
attempts to curb extremism, its heavy-handedness and strict
control of Islamic activity not only infringes on freedom of
religion, but may also further drive people towards
non-traditional, and more extreme, Islamic groups. The
government fears Islamic radicalism, and little hope exists that
it will loosen its surveillance or control on Tajikistan's
practicing Muslims. END COMMENT.
HUSHEK