Tajikistan Muslim
Men pray during Kurban-Ait, also known as Eid al-Adha in Arabic, at a mosque in the village of Nurabad, some 40 km (25 miles) west of the Tajik capital Dushanbe.REUTERS/Nozim Kalandarov

Police in Tajikistan have been accused of forcing Muslims to shave off their beards as a way to fight against extremism.

Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon has repeatedly called for the strengthening of secular principles in the mostly Muslim country of 8.5 million.

Videos portraying Tajik IS militants calling for jihad against the central government have emerged recently in the central Asian country, which has experienced something of a security vacuum dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In November, the State Committee for the National Security of Tajikistan warned that there were around 300 Tajik citizens fighting in Syria alongside IS.

One on the chin for Muslims

Two officers of Tajikistan's police in the northern region of the country were officially rebuked for forcing Muslims to shave their beards, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

The officers were warned of harsh consequences if complaints by local Muslim residents continue.

"We have ordered regional police departments to talk to local residents about extremism, but have never called on them to work with people through force and pressure," Deputy Interior Minister Ikrom Umarzoda told RFE/RL on April 27.

Tajikistan has already banned headscarves for schoolgirls, barred minors from mosques, and forced thousands of students to return home from Islamic schools abroad, in a bid to stamp out extremism.

Earlier this month, the Kommersant Daily newspaper reported Russia was ready to supply about $1.2bn (£793m) worth of weapons and military equipment to Tajikistan to fight IS.