updated 5/24/2007 6:45:07 PM ET 2007-05-24T22:45:07

Tajikistan's president called Thursday for legislation to limit the size and expense of weddings, birthday parties and funerals, saying the ceremonies have become too expensive and unjustified for the poor former Soviet republic.

The proposal by President Emomalii Rakhmon is the latest targeting the customs and behavior of Tajiks. He recently banned schoolchildren from using cell phones and wearing Islamic or revealing Western clothes, called for an end to elaborate end-of-school-year parties and urged all Tajiks to drop Russian endings from surnames.

Rakhmon told a group of lawmakers, clerics and intellectuals that guests at weddings should be restricted to 150; at a funeral, 100; and at a circumcision ceremony, to 60.

"Every year, about $220 million is spent on weddings alone" nationwide, he said. "But most of these wedding-related ceremonies are completely unjustified."

He also said birthday parties should be thrown for family members only, and said the rules would help preserve traditions of the predominantly Muslim nation. He also ordered the Quran to be translated into Tajik from Arabic.

Rakhmon has ruled the impoverished Central Asian nation since 1994. He was re-elected last year in an election that foreign observers said was flawed.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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