Muhammed Ziyo, 26, a day laborer, poses with other day laborers in the background on a street corner in the 82nd district of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on June 11, 2015
The Washington Post/Getty Images
January 20, 2016 11:41 PM EST

Authorities in Tajikistan forcibly shaved nearly 13,000 men whose beards were judged to be “overly long and unkept” last year as part of a police campaign to eradicate conservative Islam — termed a foreign influence in the former Soviet republic.

According to a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty blog on Central Asia, officials have been “working overtime” to regulate everyday life in Tajikistan so that it conforms to the government’s idea of traditional Tajik values.

Bahrom Sharifzoda, police chief in the province of Khatlon, held a press conference on Tuesday to declare the campaign’s successes during 2015. Some 12,818 men with the wrong facial hair were “brought to order,” said the chief, who was himself pictured as clean-shaven in local media.

More than 150 shops selling hijab were also shut down, 89 hijab-wearing prostitutes arrested and 1,773 women and girls “convinced” that they should not wear Islamic headwear considered alien to the country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said.

Tajikistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, but considers itself a secular state.


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