DUSHANBE (TAJIKISTAN) (AFP) –
Post-Soviet Tajikistan’s authoritarian President Emomali Rakhmon said Friday that Tajiks fighting in the ranks of ISIS and other extremist organisations in Iraq and Syria would burn in hell.
Rakhmon, whose secular government is frequently accused of cracking down on religious believers, spoke in the capital Dushanbe ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, which Tajikistan renamed the Day of the Mother in 2009.
Quoting verses from the Koran that say killing other Muslims without reason is a mortal sin, Rakhmon stressed the role of women in raising the next generation of Tajik citizens.
“Did their mothers or these strays themselves not know that their place is in hell? Do they not know that Syria and Iraq are Muslim countries and that every day there are Muslims dying there?” Rakhmon said at a public gathering.
“Hell awaits everyone who kills the faithful without reason.”
Tajik authorities have said that up to 300 nationals may be fighting in Iraq and Syria.
In February, a court in the impoverished Central Asian country sentenced 13 men to between nine and 12 years for their alleged role in calling on young people to fight in the Middle East.
Rakhmon’s party won a crushing victory in a March 1 parliamentary election denounced by international observers.
The opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) — the only registered faith-based party in ex-Soviet Central Asia — failed to win a single seat for the first time since the country introduced a bicameral parliament following a constitutional change in 1999.