Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tajikistan Leader Bans School Proms As 'Pompous,' 'Excessive Luxury'

President Emomalii Rakhmon has banned high school graduation parties in this largely Muslim Central Asian nation, the latest in a string of edicts on Tajik cultural and social life. Rakhmon said he was concerned about the ``pompous'' and ``excessive luxury'' of school festivities, according to his press service. Earlier, he ordered a ban on the use of cell phones and private cars at high schools. In recent years, end-of-the-year graduation celebrations have become elaborate and lavish, with wealthy families buying teenagers new dresses and suits, and renting limousines, restaurants and ballrooms for parties - a trend made all the more jarring given Tajikistan's widespread poverty.Rakhmon also urged all new parents to drop Russian-style endings for infant surnames. Names, he said, should be according to ``historic traditions,'' and he also urged parents to drop from birth certificates Russian patronymic middle names that commonly end with ``ovich'' or ``ovna.'' Last week, the Tajik president de-Russified his own name - changing it from Emomali Rakhmonov - and he urged Tajiks to follow a 1989 law that discourages ``-ov'' and ``-ev'' endings that were widely added to surnames during the Communist era. ``It's about the spelling of names and surnames of children according to the historic traditions of Tajik culture, and as a comeback to national roots,'' the statement said. Most Tajiks speak a dialect of Farsi, Iran's main language. Rakhmon has ruled the impoverished Central Asian nation since 1994, and was re-elected last year in an election that foreign observers said was flawed.