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On a related note, will mandatory attendance at the theater improve the Tajik police’s poor human rights record?19 April 2017
Travelers bound for Tajikistan should be aware that they now need written permission to bring any book into the country – or out of it. However, you’re probably safe bringing in the latest bestseller, as long as it’s not a Farsi translation.
The Culture Ministry recently announced the new rule, saying it would help prevent valuable manuscripts from being smuggled out of the country.
"The requirement applies to [travelers to and from] all countries, regardless of the language or script of the books," Sherali Khojaev, the head of the ministry’s department for the protection of cultural heritage, told RFE/RL's Tajik service.
But the rule is likely designed to keep radical Islamist literature from entering the country, RFE says.
Tajikistani authorities have spent years trying to keep conservative Islamic customs from taking hold. President Emomali Rahmon encourages women to wear colorful traditional dress instead of black, and parents may soon be legally required to give children traditional Tajik names.
More ominously, they banned the country’s only legal Islamist party and jailed many of its members and other oppositionists.
Many customs agents can’t read the Arabic-based script used for Farsi, according to a Dushanbe-based social commentator.
"In some instances, the customs officials seized entirely 'harmless' books," he said.
The Tajik language is closely related to Farsi but is commonly written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Tajikistani authorities outlawed the fundamentalist Salafi school of Islam in 2009, and two years ago released a list of banned Salafist literature. Tajik clerics say Salafist radicalism is similar to that practiced by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Asia-Plus reported.
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