Tajikistan shuts Islamic opposition party HQ

AFP , Tuesday 25 Aug 2015

The secular Central Asian state of Tajikistan on Tuesday sealed off the headquarters of a major Islamic opposition party in the latest crackdown on the organisation.

An economic court in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe justified the decision to close off the headquarters of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) for at least 10 days by citing "disagreements between the department of state property in Dushanbe and the owner of the administrative building where the office of IRPT is located."

The owner of the building, Muhammadjon Nuri, son of former party leader Said Abdullo Nuri, has denied there is a conflict over its ownership.

Earlier this month, the Tajik government shut down the IRPT's publishing house citing sanitary and fire safety violations.

The IRPT became an umbrella opposition bloc for moderate Muslims as well as more secular-minded Tajiks following the 1997 peace deal between the government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) that ended a five-year civil war.

The IRPT failed to win a single parliamentary seat for the first time since the end of the civil war in disputed elections earlier this year.

This left Rakhmon's party without real opposition, leading to a harder line on religion, including a ban on importing hijabs and reports of forcible beard shaving.

In July, the IRPT appealed to the guarantors of the peace accord, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe and Russia.

The party complained of "illegal and immoral actions by the state organs against individuals, parties, opposition and religious groups", and noted the government's marginalisation of the opposition could increase the appeal of religious radicalism in the country.

There are up to 600 Tajik citizens currently fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, according to Tajikistan's security services.


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