'Father Christmas' stabbed to death in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE Tue Jan 3, 2012 10:02am IST

Related Topics

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - A young man dressed as "Father Frost" - the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas - was stabbed to death in Tajikistan on Monday in an attack police believe was motivated by religious hatred, two police sources said.

A crowd attacked 24-year-old Parviz Davlatbekov and stabbed him with a knife as he visited relatives in the early hours of Monday dressed as Father Frost, who by tradition brings Russian children presents at New Year. Russian cultural influence remains strong in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic.

"We have witness statements that say the crowd beat Parviz and stabbed him with a knife, shouting: 'You infidel!'," one of the sources told Reuters.

The second source said religious hatred was being investigated as the motive for the crime, which occurred in the capital Dushanbe.

Tajikistan is officially secular, although the vast majority of its 7.7 million people are Muslims. Authorities have cracked down on religious freedoms in the last few years and jailed dozens of people for membership of Islamist groups.

President Imomali Rakhmon has ordered students at foreign religious schools to return home and told his security services to tighten control over religious education and mosques in Tajikistan, which he says are often used to foment radicalism.

His critics say poverty and repression in the poorest of the 15 former Soviet republics is pushing many young Tajiks toward radical Islamism. The country, where tens of thousands died in a civil war in the 1990s, shares a long border with Afghanistan.

Tokhir Normatov, chief of staff of Tajikistan's Interior Ministry, said the victim had died in hospital from a loss of blood, but made no comment on the motive for the attack.

(Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

FILED UNDER:

WORLD NEWS

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India's economic growth revised up by almost 50 pct.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Child Trafficking

Child Trafficking

Police find hundreds of child slaves making bangles - media   Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

England reach final after Taylor-made victory.  Full Article 

Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

Justin Bieber says dropping 'arrogant' and 'conceited' attitude  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage