President orders Tajik scholars to come home

August 7, 1998

The president of Tajikistan has recalled all Tajik students and scholars attending foreign universities. His summons was quickly answered: more than 100 students have already returned from Iran.

The motives for the recall seem mixed. The "obvious" explanation is that their return is part of the normalisation process after years of civil war, and their talents are needed to rebuild the country.

President Emomali Rahmonov may feel that if they stay abroad too long they may become the focus for fundamentalist opposition to his secularist regime.

Another presidential decree has prohibited soldiers from wearing beards, a well-known feature of fundamentalist dress.

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