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Tajikistan: Parents of Students Studying Abroad Prosecuted

(Apr. 22, 2011) It has been reported recently that Tajik police authorities have initiated criminal cases against individuals whose minor children are studying in religious, Islamic schools in foreign Muslim countries. (First Criminal Cases Against the Parents Whose Children Are Studying Abroad
Are Initiated in Tajikistan
[in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Apr. 13, 2011).)

The charges were brought against pairs of parents who were accused of preventing access of their children to secondary education, which is mandatory for all Tajik children under the age of 18. The Criminal Code of Tajikistan provides for heavy fines and up to two years of restrictions on freedom as punishment for this crime. (Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan, art. 164, amended by Law No. 35, May 17, 2004.)

The prosecutions were initiated in response to the statement made by the Tajik President Imomali Rahmon that those who study in religious schools abroad have more chances to become terrorists and extremists than mullahs or religious workers. (NEWSRU.COM, supra.) According to Abdulakhin Kholikov, Chairman of the government's Religious Affairs Committee, almost 2,400 school-age children were studying at religious schools abroad at the beginning of 2011, and 1,870 of them returned home recently. Half of the students reported upon returning home that they were offered a chance by the teachers to join a violent Islamic group. (Id.)