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Latest update : 2016-01-22

Tajikistan cracks down on beards and full veils

In Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan, authorities have declared war on radical Islam and are trying to root out potential terrorists in the country.

Tajikistan, a poor country nestled in the heart of Central Asia, has become a recruiting ground for the Islamic State (IS) group. Several hundred young Tajiks have already gone to swell the ranks of the jihadists in Iraq and Syria, according to official figures.

Last summer, President Emomali Rahmon's authoritarian regime suffered a huge blow when one of his close allies, Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, the former head of an elite police unit, joined the IS group jihadists and urged people to follow his example in a video broadcast online.

Since then, the authorities have launched a relentless crackdown on radical Islam and on everything they consider to be evidence of radicalisation. Men are strongly encouraged to shave their beards, while the full Islamic veil is no longer sold at market stalls. A relentless crackdown on potential jihadists has been launched, at the risk of violating basic human rights. Our correspondents report.

By Lucie GUILLOUX , Tarik ABYAD

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