Tajik MP is Against Mixed Marriages “Especially with Chinese“

It is rare that the deputies in Tajikistan's pliant parliament become national talking points, but Saodat Amirshoeva, a female MP with strong views about mixed marriages, is fast becoming a name on everyone's tongues.

An MP in President Emomali Rahmon's People's Democratic Party, Armishoeva's legislative initiatives are mostly nuptial in nature. Back in 2010 she suggested raising the marriage age for girls to 22 years of age, while earlier this year she led a failed attempt to ban marriages between first cousins. Now she is returning to her favorite theme by warning Tajik women not to compromise the national gene pool by marrying non-Muslims, “especially Chinese”.

MP Amirshoyeva (RFE/RL)

MP Amirshoyeva (RFE/RL)

Amirshoeva is not a geneticist by trade, nor it seems, is she a diplomat. China is the largest and wealthiest of the countries bordering Tajikistan, and thus one of Dushanbe's most important strategic partnerships. In fact, the MP's focus on China points to a broader sense of vulnerability felt by many Tajiks about China's growing presence in the country. In May an opposition politician claimed that Chinese border guards were drifting ever further and further into Tajik territory, just over two years after the mountainous republic controversially ceded land to Beijing. When Russian media jumped on the issue with much hullabaloo, those claims turned out to be [ru] quite difficult to verify.

But back to Amirshoeva, who stated [tj] on July 1:

Ман ба муқобили он ҳастам, ки духтарони ҷавон бо намояндагони динҳои дигар ва миллатҳои гуногун – рус, чинӣ ва дигар халқиятҳо оила барпо кунанд, ки ба анъана ва суннатҳои миллии мо манфиат намоваранд…Фикр мекунам, ки марди мусалмон метавонад бо хонумҳои мазҳаби дигар оила барпо кунад. Аммо ман муқобили он ҳастам, ки духтарони тоҷики мусалмон бо намояндагони дини дигард, алалхусус бо чиниҳо оила барпо кунанд

I am against Tajik girls marrying men of other religion, or nation – Russians, Chinese, or others. They will not benefit our customs and traditions… I also think that Muslim-Tajik (men) are allowed to marry women of other religions. But I am against Muslim-Tajik girls marrying men of other religion, especially Chinese.

MP Amirshoeva didn't clarify why she considers China a distinct religion, nor whether non-Muslims could convert and then marry Tajik women (“ask the mullahs about this”) but her views on marriage and antipathy towards potential suitors from the Celestial Empire were shared by some and criticized by others. A commentator on the Asia Plus news website writing under the nickname “тима” joked [ru]:

Добро пожаловать в средневековье. г-жа Амиршоева забыла упомянуть что право первой брачной ночи надо отдать верховному вазиру.

Welcome to the Middle Ages. Mrs. Amirshoeva forgot to mention that [conjugal] rights on the first night belong to the Grand Vizier.

Another ironic sentiment came [ru] from cuckooev:

 Целиком поддерживаем высказывания нашей глубокоуважемой депутатши. Будем поддерживать генофонд.
с уважением пациенты психклиники “Кокташ”

We entirely support the statements of our dear deputy. We will keep up the gene pool. Yours faithfully, the patients of the “Koktash” mental hospital [famous psychiatric institution in Dushanbe]

But Анушервони Одил (Anushervoni Odil) commented [ru]:

Совершенно верно! Женщина мусульманка не должна выходить замужь за неверного. Хорошо что у нас есть люди которым не безразлично честь и достоинства нации.

Absolutely right! Muslim woman should not marry adherents of a different faith. It is good that we have people who care about the honor and dignity of the nation.

In Asia Plus’ reportage, Armishoeva said her views were strictly personal and that she was not about to lobby yet another marriage law since Tajikistan was a “democratic” society. But in a separate interview with the Ozodagon news agency website, she appears to suggest [tj] the opposite:

Дар ҳақиқат имрӯз мо мебинем, ки духтарони мо аз паси бойгарию пулу мол рафта, ба мардони миллати дигар издивоҷ менамоянд, ки барои ҳамаи мо модарони тоҷик бисёр аламовар аст. Мо мардуми тоҷик, ки мусалмон ҳастем ва дар дини мубини ислом қарор дорем, ягон хел ҳуқуқ надорем, ки бо мардони ғайри дин издивоҷ намоем. Ман ҳамчун вакил ба Шумо ваъда медиҳам, ки агар чанде Конститутсия озодии никоҳро кафолат медиҳад Худо хоҳад ман ҳаракат мекунам, ки барои пеши ин амалро гирифтан ягон чораи дахлдор ҷӯям.

Indeed, we see that Tajik women chase after wealth and marry men of other nationalities, which is very unfortunate for us, Tajik mothers. We, Tajik women, as Muslims, don`t have the right to marry men of different religions. As a deputy, I promise to fight against the freedom of marriage guaranteed by the constitution.

If Armishoeva's comments have achieved something, it is to remind netizens of a sore point – the sale of swathes of Tajik territory to their giant eastern neighbour in 2011.

As УЧИТЕЛЬ ГЕОГРАФИИ (geography teacher) recalls [ru]:


So it is possible to sell Tajik land to the Chinese, but not to marry them? Our deputies have no brains

China TJ

The cover image of Platforma – a public Facebook group where Tajiks discuss political issues – suggests that corrupt land deals with China, rather than procreation with Chinese, offer the biggest threat to Tajik sovereignty. The man pictured is Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. The caption reads: “Do you have something to say to the Tajik government? This is the place!”

This post is part of the GV Central Asia Interns Project at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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