: Tajikistan seeks to tackle Islamic extremism with new classes for teenagers
Politics19:05 Mar. 5, 2016

Tajikistan seeks to tackle Islamic extremism with new classes for teenagers

Experts doubt the teaching will stop radicalisation

This classroom in Dushanbe is the latest battleground in Tajikistan's fight against Islamic extremism.

New subject, religious education, has been introduced for 15 to 16-year-olds. The Tajik authorities believe it's the crucial age to guide children's views of religion and prevent them being radicalized later on.

Safarali Tabarov, teacher: "There are extremist groups which go to Syria and other countries. Under the slogan "jihad," they pit Muslim against Muslim. And they wage a political struggle which harms the people."

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The textbooks cover various ancient and current religions, but are mostly concerned with interpreting Islam. According to official figures, more than a thousand Tajiks have traveled to Syria to join Islamic State militants. The hope is that these children will be less vulnerable to their propaganda.

Student: "There are young people in the world who have joined extremist organisations. The main reason for this is that they don't know much about religion. This book has improved our knowledge of Islam."

There are calls for similar classes at colleges, universities, and other institutes of higher education. Experts say this program will have no real impact on the numbers currently joining extremist groups.

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But there is the hope increasing religious knowledge in the classroom will keep the next generation off the battlefield.

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