Tajikistan: Demand for Exorcisms on the Rise, Despite Crackdown

Source: Radio Free Europe, February 25, 2024

Exorcism is a key source of income for Sabohiddin Shodiev, a popular cleric in his rural community on the outskirts of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Shodiev—not his real name—says that every week he treats about 15 clients who ask him to expel what they believe is an evil spirit, or jinni, possessing them, or to rid them [of] “an evil eye.”

The 53-year-old cleric has been practicing exorcisms—which he learned to do from his father—for more than two decades. Most of Shodiev’s clients come from Dushanbe and nearby districts, but some travel from faraway regions to seek his help.

Three Tajik clerics who spoke to RFE/RL claimed the demand for exorcisms is on the rise in the predominately Muslim country.

There are no official statistics in Tajikistan on exorcisms or the number of people performing the centuries-old practice, which survived decades of religious crackdowns during the atheistic Soviet era and most recently the Tajik government’s attempts to restrict exorcisms.

Some Tajiks see the ongoing efforts by the secular government as a way to keep a tab on “all things religious.” As part of that campaign, Islamic hijabs have been banned in schools and offices, while growing a long or bushy beard is frowned upon for young men.

Read the full story.

(Copyright © 2024 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).

Also from Tajikistan, some there are speaking out about local popstars wearing immodest clothing (Eurasianet).

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