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Ferghana News Agency (20.11.2017) – http://bit.ly/2Bz9Wf1  – Ilhomiddin Abdulloev, the Imam Khatib (rector) of the mosque of the village of Churuk-Darron in Guliston (formerly Kairakkum), has been sentenced to five and a half years of imprisonment in Tajikistan, the Asia Plus news agency reported, with reference to the criminal court of Guliston.

The investigation found that Abdulloev received religious education in Kuwait during 1994 to 1998, where he joined the ranks of the Salafis. Serving in a mosque in the Choruk-Darron village, he urged worshippers to join this movement. In September 2017, he was detained by law enforcement officers. At the same time, the detention of four parishioners of the same mosque was reported. Their fate remains unknown.

The court found the 42-year-old imam guilty of creating an extremist organisation in accordance with Article 307 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, in early November, the Committee for Religious Affairs of Tajikistan ordered the removal of all imam khatibs, who received an education abroad, from their posts. This decision was motivated by the risk of extremist propaganda and the order must be executed within a fortnight.

The fight against foreign religious education has been conducted in Tajikistan before. In 2010, President Emomali Rahmon said many foreign Islamic educational centres have an extremist focus. After this, Tajik students, studying in such institutions, began to return to their homeland in great numbers.

And since 2015, imam khatibs, who have studied abroad, regularly become involved in criminal cases. In particular, in the summer of 2017, seven priests of Sogd mosques were convicted in the city of Bobojon, Gafurov district, and were found guilty of propagating the ideas of the banned “Muslim Brotherhood” organisation. In 2016, in the north of Tajikistan, a total of 20 imam khatibs were sentenced on similar charges.

In total, about 4,000 mosques are officially registered in Tajikistan, of which 370 are conciliar.

Viewpoint of Human Rights Without Frontiers International

The teachings of the Salafists are in egregious contention with Article 5 of the ICCPR which reads as follows:

Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.

Salafists promote an “Untermensch” worldview in which Muslims are superior to and have more rights than non-Muslims, men are superior to and have more rights than women. They promote segregation between men and women. They promote physical judicial punishments which blatantly contradict Article 7 of the ICCPR: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

While such teachings and practices are unacceptable from a human rights point of view, sentencing ‘controversial’ imams and preachers to prison terms because they promote such an ideology is a violation of human rights. Imprisoning them is not a solution to the security issue that they may pose. Although it is the right of a state to protect its population against radicalization and nefarious foreign ideologies that promote degrading and inhumane treatments, its policies must remain in line with international human rights standards.

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 Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/