The United States is trying to destabilize the situation in Central Asia, speculating on religion and freedom of faith. US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ian Kelly harshly criticized the state of affairs in Tajikistan, the government of which, as he said, took repressive moves against the faithful.
The fighter for religious freedoms was concerned about a bill, proposed by Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon. The bill about parental responsibility for raising their children bans young people under 18 years of age from joining religious organizations. Those parents, who turn a blind eye on their children's membership at religious organizations, will be penalized financially. Adults can be deprived of parental rights if the above-mentioned measures prove to be of no help.
Ian Kelly is concerned that underage individuals in Tajikistan can be barred from attending religious rituals and services, save funeral services. In light of these circumstances, the US Ambassador to the OSCE urged the government of Tajikistan to abolish the bill, which would imply a serious violation of religious freedoms. The official also said that the US administration was alarmed about the prohibition for Tajik women to attend mosques in the country.
Indeed, several years ago, the Tajik Islamic Council banned females from attending the mosques in which there were no special rooms for women.
Nevertheless, it seems that Muslim opinions are of no importance for Mr. Kelly. He firmly believes that women should be allowed to visit any mosques they want, and that's it.
What is more, US defenders of religious freedoms are concerned about the attempts of Tajik authorities to restrict the number of citizens studying at religious schools outside the country. At the end of 2010, President Rakhmon stated that such students would return to the country as terrorists and extremists.
It is worthy of note that the Tajik administration intends to preserve the secular state structure. The president particularly banned the wearing of head scarves at schools and criticized women for wearing them in everyday life.
Strange as it may seem, American diplomats, who obviously do not harbor any sympathies for Islam, stand up to defend the Muslims of Tajikistan.
Sergei Mikheyev, the general director of the Center for Political Conjuncture:
"There is nothing surprising about the fact that the Americans are trying to put pressure on Rakhmon. First off, US special services traditionally maintain close ties with Islamists in Central Asia, including terrorist groups. They supervise the activities of Saudi foundations, the members of which conduct subversive and terrorist activities in many countries of the world.
"They verbally condemn terrorism, but practically encourage it where they need to. As for Central Asia, their goal is to destabilize the situation in Tajikistan similarly to the events in Uzbekistan in 2005. They are doing all this to create conditions for interference and expand their military presence in the region."
Geidar Jemal, the chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia:
"It is ridiculous to even think that the Americans, who shed so much blood in Muslim countries, have started to defend Muslims. The United States has been flaming wars on a vast territory from Maghreb to India, and especially close to Russia's borders.
"The things that they are doing in Tajikistan should be analyzed together with their actions in North Africa. At present moment, the Americans persistently try to get their EU and NATO allies involved in the operation against Libya.
"As for Tajikistan, the Americans are not happy about the fact that this country maintains ties with Russia and refuses to aggravate its relations with Uzbekistan. They want to set Tajikistan and Uzbekistan against each other. The remarks from the US Ambassador to the OSCE send a signal to those forces, which they had been growing. Once they set the region on fire, they will create a huge center of instability near Russia's borders.
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now