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Tajikistan Bans Minors From Entering Mosques

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon listens during a news conference in Riga, Feb. 9, 2009. (file)

Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon has approved a law barring minors from praying in mosques, as his secular government seeks to minimize the rising influence of Islam in the Central Asian nation.

Mr. Rakhmon signed the so-called "parental responsibility" law Wednesday despite criticism from rights activists, religious leaders and the opposition party.

The law, which holds parents responsible for their children's actions, requires youths under the age of 18 to study in secular schools rather than mosques, churches or other religious schools.

Religious leaders and critics of the law say it will interfere with family life and deny those under 18 the right to worship in the Central Asian nation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.