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Tajik police rule out religious motives in Santa Claus murder

January 03, 2012, 15:28 UTC+3

Police in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe detained three persons suspected of armed attack on Dushanbe resident Parviz Davlatbekov

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DUSHANBE, January 3 (Itar-Tass) — Police in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe detained three persons suspected of armed attack on Dushanbe resident Parviz Davlatbekov, 24, during the New Year night he was returning home clad as Santa Claus. The young man died shortly after he was brutally beaten.

Criminal proceedings were opened over the attack. The trio will be charged within the next few days with inflicting serious bodily harm which resulted in the victim's death, chief of the headquarters of the Tajik Interior Ministry Maj-Gen Takhir Normatov told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. A search is underway for other persons involved in the tragic incident, Normatov said.

The young man died in a Dushanbe hospital overnight to January 2 without regaining consciousness.

The police General said "there are no reasons to believe that that the crime was committed for religious reasons. It's a pure domestic crime," he said.

Police spokesman Makhmadullo Asadulloyev stated that the "attackers were not shouting ‘infidel’ as they attacked Davlatbekov.” "They were in a state of alcoholic intoxication. A verbal duel escalated to a fight," Asadulloyev said acknowledging that there had been more than three attackers.

According to the victim's friends and relatives, he became a victim of religious fanatics who did not like the Santa Claus outfit.

Local observer noted more discussions in the recent times between the supporters and opponents to the celebration of the New year in the country, where 98 percent of the population are Muslims.

Chief mufti Saidmukarram Abdukodirzoda "added fuel to the fire" by stating that the traditions of the Christian New Year are alien to the culture of Tajiks and contradict to the laws of Islam.

The Muslims should adhere to their own customs, while decorating the Christmas Tree, dances and games are not part of their culture.

He reminded that often, the New Year celebration implies not seeing the New Year in, but drinking alcohol and eating a large quantity of food, which Islam denounces.

The statement by Tajikistan’s top hierarch evoked a negative response from a majority of representatives of the republic's mass media.


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