It seems that international experts failed to predict the future location and institutional principles of ISIS. A new hotbed of obscurantism is being formed on the world map, denying human rights and dignity, laws and the Constitution of a formerly civil state, trampling on Islamic as well as universal norms of life, assuming the place of Law and Islam.
A few days ago, the Dushanbe city court left unchanged the sentence, of a kind, that is simply impossible to expect proclaimed in a free secular democratic state. The kind of a sentence that would have caused the widest scandal in such a country and abroad. This verdict, contrary to the Constitution of Tajikistan, puts this state on a par with the obscurantists of today’s ”Islamic” regimes and the medieval Holy Inquisition in Europe.
The point is, that blogger Dzhunaydullo Khudoyorov was not convicted to 5 years of prison somewhere in the sands of Arabia or in ISIS controlled region. It happened in the post-Soviet Dushanbe district court, and the man was found guilty in “the wrong prayer”. The chairman S. Nuralizoda based the verdict (sic!) on the Council of Ulama expert opinion. It was expertly found out, that during namaz (prayer) the convicted “spread his legs wide apart”, “spread his shoulders and elbows wide, interfering with other prayers” and «didn’t get the fingertips up to the earlobes.» Consequently, Khudoyorov was found guilty of commitment to salafism and extremism.
Such kind of a verdict is basically impossible in a democratic secular country, that Tajikistan is supposed to be, according to the Constitution. If judges were not appointed after graduating the madrasas, they should have been required to know that Article 8 of the Constitution proclaims that:
“In Tajikistan, public affairs are based on political and ideological pluralism.
The ideology of a single party, public or religious association, movement or group can not be recognized as a state one.
Religious associations are separated from the state and cannot interfere in state affairs.”
Regrettable misunderstanding or a verdict to the political system?
This adjudication of Judge S. Nuralizoda repeatedly violates the Constitution of Tajikistan. It caused reputational damage to the country. It crossed-out unceasing efforts of the Tajik authorities to improve the international image of the country and the government, to gain trust from international organizations, partners and investors. It would have been natural for the higher judicial authorities to think again. Cassation of the blogger’s attorney and the similar appeals of the blogger’s relatives, should have given them an excellent opportunity to dismiss the verdict of the district judge as an annoying misunderstanding. However, on October 31, the city court, after a 20-minute hearing and a two-minute absence in the courtroom, left the sentence unchanged. So the initial verdict was not exposed as a catastrophic mistake and a blow to the reputation of the court as well as to the state and it’s authorities. Systematic sinking into lawlessness and medieval obscurantism, denial and violation of the constitutional principles of the state was clearly demonstrated. It seems now relevant to remind the head of the judicial board at the cassation hearing, Aso middin Bobokhonzoda, who is also a madrasa graduate, another article of the immutable Basic Law of Tajikistan, as it seems he did not study it well at the University:
Everyone has the right to independently determine his attitude to religion, to profess any religion individually or jointly with others or not to profess any religion, to participate in the administration of religious cults, rituals and rites.”
Does opposing corruption mean extremism?
An open letter of the plaintiff Fatahullo Nazriev to the state authorities. Photo from Radio Ozodi
Let us point out a remarkable detail in this case. Neither the first nor the second hearing were attended by plaintiff. Originally, the imam-khatib of the Rasht District Mosque (in eastern Tajikistan), Fatkhullo Nazriev was declared a plaintiff. His application turned out to be the reason that blogger Dzhunaydullo Hudoyorov was suddenly accused of violating the prayer order. Considering this as a criminal case in a basically secular country looks a nuisance.. However, after the blogger was arrested, Imam-Khatib wrote a public letter addressed to Emomali Rakhmon, Prosecutor General, Interior Ministers and National Security Service, stating that he had slandered Khudoyorov under the pressure from the regional police head. Imam-Khatib was in danger of being also declared a Salafi. Nevertheless, the court did not take into account the open letter and the statement about the threats to Imam-Khatib. He himself was not summoned to the court sessions.
Then what was the reason of this shameful show? After the accused blogger Dzhunaydullo Khudoyorov tried to justify himself as an exemplary hanafi adept, never connected Salafism, and pointed out that he was being persecuted because of his exposing articles on corruption of the leadership of Rasht District, The City Judge of Dushanbe Asomiddin Bobokhonzoda remarked with a grin: “So there was no need to mention the Head of the District Kanoat Loikzoda. ” I will not cite here the Articles 30 and 42 of the Constitution, preventing any Judge of such a statement.
It also remarkable in the blogger Khudoerov case, that it’s progress is being supervised by the Deputy Prosecutor General Validzhon Vakhobov, who turned out to be married to the niece of the above mentioned Head of the Rasht District Kanoat Loikzoda, the hero of the anti-corruption investigations of the convicted blogger. On the eve of the cassation review, the blogger’s relatives came to the General Prosecutor’s Office with another appeal. The employee who received them, asking for the name of the accused and finding it in the journal, stated that the verdict would not be canceled. I do need to fully cite here the text of the Article 87 of the Constitution of “the law abiding” Tajikistan:
“Judges are independent in their activities, subject only to the Constitution and the law.
Interference in their activities is prohibited.”
This case consists of numerous cynical anti-constitutional and illegal acts on behalf of several so-called persons of authority, having used their official position to silence and condemn a blogger for anti-corruption investigations. It exposes conflicts of interests, irresponsible undermining of trust in law enforcement and judicial system,damaging the reputation of the State and undermining it’s legal substructure. The Tajik folklore definition of such a court as “Hovsud” is absolutely idiomatic and may be more or less adequately interpreted as «donkey court.» 9 million Tajiks suffer from corruption and oppose it, so most of them can be potentially condemned as extremists. Yes, you can assign this disgrace exclusively to ignorance, short mindedness and corruption of local judges, policemen and prosecutors. But unfortunately, the recurrence of accidents of a kind indicates, that the rotten system at the top repeats itself on every power level in accordance with induced standards. This is a fractally scaled replica of the higher authority, reduced to a district or city cise .
Slipping into obscurantism
Tajikistan Council of Ulema. Photo from Radio Ozodi
At first, contrary to the Constitution of a secular law-governed state, the supervisors from the Ministry of Internal Affairs appeared in the mosques, controlling “the right” performance of prayers. Then cameras were installed for total control, whereas non-equipped mosques began to be closed.
The Council of Ulema began to ban secular holidays and traditions, bringing fatwas about the anti-Islamic character of the New Year, Christmas trees, graduation parties,The First and The Last School Bell ceremonies. The State News Agency «Khovar» published a decision of the authorities to ban the traditional memorial march » The Immortal Regiment» as «contrary to Islamic values and traditions.» The Council of Ulema spoke out against the secular Tajik opposition organization in Europe, the Free-Thinking Forum of Tajikistan, accusing its members of being anti islamic agnostics. The Council of Ulemas promoted the Tanzim law, regulating parties, commemorations, and weddings, as well as defining the cases of their prohibition and persecution for incomplience. Just recently, the state fined a woman who invited her friends to the restaurant for her birthday party.
Islamic experts point out, that these law initiatives are somehow similar to Salafi restrictions and prohibitions, and note that a number of members of the Ulema Council, including its head, received spiritual education in Salafi schools abroad. There isn’t actually any contradiction here. The Tajik authorities are most friendly with Saudi Arabia and perfectly understand each other , announcing regular amnesties for the persecuted Salafis, while bargaining for another loan or grant from Er — Riyadh and other countries where Salafism is strong.
Following the spirit of the Saudi policy, the head of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon accuses Shiites and those who “changed their faith and converted to Shiism”, which is unimaginable for a responsible leader of a secular country And this is despite the fact that part of the Muslims of Tajikistan traditionally professed Shiism for centuries. This man swore on the Constitution for 27 years and never troubled to look into it.
Rahmon as Islamic Sultan and Qazi
Practically the case demonstrates an example of dissidents, critics and opponents persecution, using Islamic grounds. Having banned the IRPT, Emomali Rakhmon is forced to flirt with devoted and appear before them as a staunch defender of Islamic traditions and values. That means, in fact, that after the ban of IRPT Emomali Rakhmon has to fill the vacuum and play the role of the Supreme Qazi, deciding who is orthodox and who is not. He favorably condescended to the title given by the monsoons — the Shadow of Allah on earth. It is obvious that the Islamic card used by Rakhmon to persecute the opposition leads to islamic radicalization and fragmentation, inciting religious hatred among the population. And in one way or another the entire vertical structure of power has adopted the system of free expression, criticism, and anti-corruption investigations persecution created by him . Local officials began to use this inquisitorial ways to eliminate those who prevent them from stealing and talk a lot.
This is the way how the private, corrupt interests of the system rotten from top to bottom transform a formerly secular legal state with a democratic Constitution into Islamic Emirate. The right to punish on behalf of Islam was received by loyal to the system, however incompetent, ignorant and corrupt they are. You only have to accept the rules of the game: lick with all your might and steal, as much as you like and even more and you can do whatever you want with the people. This is the way how the authorities, having been 27 post-Soviet years alone at the top and behind the counter, destroy the constitutional foundations of the state. And they are sure they do not represent any “threat to peace and stability”, and are not the“traitors to the nation” as they proclaim IRPT and other opposition to be. The consequences are evidently frightening. There critical mass of Constitution violations has accumulated , threatening the existence of the state itself. I am not sure that the government remembers and is able and protect this fundamental principle of the Constitution:
The republican form of government, territorial integrity, democratic, legal, secular and social essence of the state are unchangeable.
The case of blogger Dzhunaydullo Khudoerov has just become one more test to prove the direction Tajikistan is rapidly sliding in.