– The leader of majority-Muslim Tajikistan on Thursday urged the faithful to
forego fasting during Ramadaan to safeguard against “infectious
diseases” even as he stressed the absence of coronavirus cases in the
In an address welcoming the
Islamic holy month of fasting, President Emomali Rakhmon said it makes people
“vulnerable to infection from infectious diseases” and urged farmers
and manual workers to postpone the ritual.
“Although this disease is
not registered in our country, this does not mean that we should be careless
and sit idle,” Rakhmon wrote in the address released by his office.
Saying he was citing Islamic
scholars, Rakhmon described fasting as harmful for “farmers, livestock
breeders and those who work hard”.
“I urge all those who work
in the fields and produce prosperity… to reschedule the fast to another, more
favourable time,” said Rakhmon.
Sourced ventilators and test kits in preparation
Impoverished Tajikistan is one of
the handful of countries that have not reported a single case of the novel
coronavirus. Another is fellow ex-Soviet state Turkmenistan.
Turkmen authorities said at a
meeting of officials and donor agencies on Wednesday that the reclusive
gas-rich state had sourced ventilators and test kits from abroad in preparation
for potential infections.
“I am very frank! If there
was a single registered case of coronavirus infection in Turkmenistan, we would
immediately inform the World Health Organisation and the international
community!” Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov told the meeting.
While Tajikistan and Turkmenistan
have largely Muslim populations, both countries have been cited by the US State
Department as top offenders against religious freedoms.
In 2018, Tajikistan’s
pro-government religious authorities advised workers building the giant Rogun
Dam – a flagship hydroelectric facility of central importance to the economy – not
to keep the fast.