DUSHANBE, September 22, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- The Islamic Revival Party (IRP)’s cultural center in Dushanbe – widely known as the “women’s mosque” --  has been completely rehabilitated.

We will recall that the building, adjacent to the party''s headquarters and its main prayer hall, was seriously damaged by fire on October 23, 2010.

The IRP leader Muhiddin Kabiri told Asia-Plus today that the religious center functioned as the only mosque in Tajikistan that allowed women to pray alongside men.

He expressed hope that disagreement between the IRP and the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) under the Government of Tajikistan over the functioning of that mosque would be resolved in the near future.

The mosque is at the center of a long-running dispute between Tajik officials and the IRP.  The CRA insists the building is not officially registered as a prayer house and that political parties should not have mosques.  The IRP had repeatedly been told not to use its headquarters for prayers and for selling religious compact disks.

The authorities attributed the center fire to an electrical malfunction.  Meanwhile, some representatives of the IRP suggested that the building was set ablaze deliberately.  According to them, the incident took place a day after the CRA officials visited the center to tell the party to stop using the building for prayers.

At least 100 women reportedly took part in Friday Prayers in the adjacent prayer room, which was separated by a partition from the main hall where the men pray.  The IRP, however, called it a women''s religious cultural center.

Tajik religious authorities banned women from attending mosque prayers in 2004.