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Tajikistan bans wailing, hair-tearing at funerals

Posted September 28

— The ex-Soviet Central Asian nation of Tajikistan has imposed limits on how citizens can act at funerals, including bans on black clothes and loud wailing.

Although Tajikistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, President Emomali Rakhmon's government has often taken measures against behavior commonly associated with fundamentalist Islam. Police reportedly have forcibly shaved off the beards of tens of thousands of men and the country bans anyone under 40 from undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

A pamphlet distributed by the government's Committee on Religious Affairs this month says hired mourners cannot be used and those grieving must not tear their hair or scratch their faces, according to Tajik and Russian news agencies.

Tajikistan was devastated by a five-year civil war with Islamist-inspired rebel forces, which ended in 1997.

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