Two recent criminal cases concerning Muslim religious leaders promising mystical cures are helping to focus attention in Tajikistan on the phenomenon of faith healing. The cases in question involved a “possessed” teenager who was bled and beaten to death, and a woman who was sexually molested while seeking fertility treatment.
Amid a steep decline in the quality of education since the 1991 Soviet collapse, Tajikistan is proving to be fertile ground for non-traditional, largely unregulated healers, health care professionals assert.
The trend has led to tragedy and scandal. In one of the highest profile cases, police in the Pyanj District, near the Afghan border, detained an imam November 15 in connection with the death of a 19-year-old mentally handicapped man during a supposed attempt to exorcise evil spirits. Abdulvokhid Kodirov allegedly beat his patient with a wooden cane and cut his skin to bleed him. Doctors concluded the young man died from trauma and excessive blood loss, local media outlets reported.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.