QURGHON TEPPA, September 20, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- Khaton authorities intend to turn unregistered mosques into aid stations and gyms.

The local authorities of Jomi district have already gone with that, having turned 16 mosques that failed to undergo re-registration into public cultural centers.

“Other districts of southern Tajikistan have also adopted their initiative,” Bobokhon Sharbatov, the head of the Khatlon department on religious affairs, said, noting that 229 unregistered mosques have been detected in the province to date.  According to him, all of them will change their status.

To-date, 1,718 mosques have been registered in Khatlon.  “This number is quite enough for parishioners and in case of necessity or founding of new villages we are ready to consider the issue of construction of new mosques in compliance with all necessary requirements,” Sharbatov added.

We will recall that Tajikistan in 2009 passed a new law on religion requiring all religious communities to reregister with the Committee on Religious Affairs under the Government of Tajikistan.

Many mosques, some churches, and other non-Islamic places of worship were denied re-registration at that time.  Some of those locations were built as venues for weddings or funerals and never had the formal status of mosques, although they were sometimes used as such.

Mosques in Tajikistan are administered by the State Committee for Religious Affairs, while other "public places" are run by local councils.

The country’s religion law limits the number of mosques that may be registered within a given population area.  Friday mosques are allowed in districts with 10,000 to 20,000 persons; five-time mosques are allowed in areas with populations of 100 to 1,000. The quotas are higher for Dushanbe, where Friday mosques may function in areas with 30,000 to 50,000 persons; five-time mosques are allowed in areas with populations of 1,000 to 5,000.

According to CRA, Dushanbe now has one Islamic Center, 38 five-time prayer mosques, twenty Friday prayer mosques (larger facilities for weekly Friday prayers), and four central Friday prayer mosques.