In his Mother’s Day speech last month, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon criticized women who wear “foreign” clothing, especially the black veils associated with conservative Islam. Within days, officials began threatening shopkeepers who sell hijab, the Islamic head covering for women; a few days later state television reported that sex workers are using hijab to drive up their prices.
“Since ancient times our people have had beautiful women’s dresses, our girls have never worn black clothes. Traditionally, black clothes are not welcome,” Rahmon told mothers ahead of Mother’s Day, which has replaced International Women’s Day in Tajikistan and is marked on March 8. The president never specifically named Islamic hijab, but his target was clear: “Strangers” are using these clothes in their drive “to promote obtrusive ideas and want to create another new extremist trend in our country.”
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