Tajikistan shaves 13,000 men's beards in fight against radicalism

Police in Tajikistan have shaved the beards of almost 13,000 men, closed more than 160 shops selling traditional Muslim ware and convinced over 1,700 women to stop wearing head-scarves in a bid to fight against "foreign influences".

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon prior to a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013Reuters

Police chief Bahrom Sharifzoda held a press conference on Tuesday to declare the success of the government's campaign to minimise foreign influences in the country during 2015.

The secular government of Tajikistan, a Muslim-majority nation, has sought to regulate aspects of everyday life to ensure the retention of traditional Tajik values and avoid influences of neighbouring Afghanistan and other conservative Muslim nations.

During 2015, 12,818 men with beards deemed to long were "brought to order," said Sharifzoda.

In total, 89 prostitutes wearing hijabs were arrested in the year and 1,773 women were "convinced" not to wear head-scarves, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio liberty. More than 160 shops selling traditional Islamic clothing were also shut down.

These actions by police are not typical of the secular state, though President Emomali Rahmon actively discourages foreign beliefs and practices, according to Radio Liberty.

Last week, the Tajik parliament voted to ban Arabic-sounding "foreign" names and marriages between first cousins, which is expected to be approved by Rahmon.

In September, the country's only Islamic political party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, was banned by the Supreme Court.

The nation was formerly a part of the Soviet Union and remains heavily dependent on Russia, having struggled economically since its independence.

Rahmon has ruled the nation since 1994 and the parliament has granted the president and his family life-long immunity from prosecution and designated him "the founder of peace and national unity of Tajikstan."

There are thought to be up to 2,000 fighters from Tajikistan with ISIS in Syria.