Tajikistan fights Islamic State, Interior Minister stages play

His play tells the story of young man who goes to Syria to join Islamic State.

With the attention of the world turned to Tajikistan in the wake of the killings of four tourists claimed by the Islamic State group, the nation’s top cop has put the final touches on a play to be staged later this month.

On August 13, the Abulqosim Lohuti theater in Dushanbe will see the staging of Dili Modar — the Heart of a Mother — a work penned by Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda.

As RFE/RL’s Tajik service has reported, the play tells the story of a student, Khurshed, who joins the ranks of the Islamic State in Syria. But the main hero of the piece, as suggested by the title, is the young man’s mother. (Spoiler alert: The play ends with her being shot dead by her son, who all too late then realizes the error of his way).

The cost of providing costumes and scenery is reportedly being underwritten by the Interior Ministry. Rahimzoda and the head of the State Committee for National Security, Saymumin Yatimov, were apparently both involved in overseeing rehearsals.

Heart of a Mother is not Rahimzoda’s first creative effort. Indeed, the minister, who writes under the pseudonym Nihoni (Tajik for clandestine or secret), has no less than 120 books and monographs under his belt, according to his press office.

According to his official biography, although Rahimzoda is a law enforcement officer by training, he has dabbled in verse-writing ever since childhood. He has tried to inculcate his ministry with this artistic mood. The police force regularly holds evening performances involving poets and writers. The Interior Ministry has also periodically held writing competitions.

In 2016, Rahimzoda, under the guise of Nihoni, wrote a poem of 55 couplets called “In the Praise of the Leader of the Nation” dedicated to President Emomali Rahmon.

A review of this work by the security services' Yatimov was devoted to further hailing Rahmon.

“His experience allows us to anticipate threats of society ahead of time. He can save the country from modern-day threats in a timely manner,” he wrote.

Another Rahimzoda poem devoted to Rahmon titled Tu Mearzi (You are Worthy) was performed to music by a four-piece family singing troupe of sisters Shabnam and Farzona, their mother Surai Qosimova and one of the young women’s husbands.

While Rahimzoda and Yatimov have been busy expressing their artistic side, individuals representing themselves as associates of the Islamic State have continued to make their voices heard. In a video address that was posted on YouTube but was then pulled offline, a figure going by the name of Abu Usama Noraki described last month’s murder of four foreign cyclists as just the “first bell” and said that the Islamic State would continue its campaign.

The official position on the attack, meanwhile, is that it was the work of the banned opposition group Islamic Renaissance Party or Tajikistan, or IRPT. This version of events was somewhat undermined by a video of the suspected perpetrators posing in front of an Islamic State flag, but the authorities have argued this was an attempt by IRPT to mislead.

Tajikistan fights Islamic State, Interior Minister stages play

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