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Tajikistan: “Why should I ask the Government what books I can read?”

ICC Note:

“A new “offence” of producing, distributing, importing or exporting religious literature and items of a religious nature [including Christian material]… was created with the addition of Article 474-1 to the Code of Administrative Offences,” reports Forum 18 News Service.

By Mushfig Bayram
 
1/11/2011 Tajikistan (Forum 18 News Service) – A new “offence” of producing, distributing, importing or exporting religious literature and items of a religious nature which have not passed through the compulsory prior state religious censorship was created with the addition of Article 474-1 to the Code of Administrative Offences. The Article, which came into force on 1 January 2011, imposes heavy fines. An Ismaili Imam from Mountainous Badakhshan Region, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of reprisals from the authorities, is among those to complain to Forum 18 about the fines and the censorship system. “Why should I ask the Government what books I can read? I should be free to read any books about my faith.” Mavlon Mukhtarov of the Government’s Religious Affairs Committee denied that the censorship violates Tajikistan’s international human rights commitments. Asked by Forum 18 about the huge fines, he told Forum 18: “Well, we will warn religious organisations not to violate the law, and those fines will only come if they continue violations.”

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