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Tajikistan’s Islam-Averse Leader Goes to Mecca

Emomali Rahmon during his pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, in January, 2015.

In a striking change of tack from his regular aversion to all things Muslim, the president of Tajikistan has flown to Saudi Arabia with a bevy of relatives and senior officials to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Emomali Rahmon performed the Umrah — as the pilgrimage is known when not carried out during the period devoted to the Hajj — as a bonus excursion during his begging visit to Saudi Arabia.

An extraordinary series of photos, published on January 5m, show Rahmon wrapped only in a flimsy robe, which struggles to contain his not unsubstantial girth, and reveal how many members of his family he took along. There is the first lady, Azizamo Asadullayeva, Rahmon’s eldest daughter, Firuza, another daughter, Ozoda Emomali, his youngest son, Somon, and a son-in-law, Djamoliddin Nuraliyev. Other faces visible in the crowd belong to the education minister, the economy minister, the transport minister, the head of the country’s largest bank, the head of the committee for religious affairs and the sports and tourism minister.

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Tajikistan’s Islam-Averse Leader Goes to Mecca

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