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RUSSIA: Muslim followers of peaceful new religious movements prosecuted

Muslim followers of peaceful new religious movements prosecuted

Two-year prison term for a Tablighi Jamaat follower

SOVA CENTER/ HRWF (31.03.2022) –  https://bit.ly/3qX6mDO – In January, a court in Omsk fined three followers of Tablighi Jamaat under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code. The regional court changed the punishment and sentenced one of them to a two-year prison term and two to a suspended sentence.

 

In March 2022, Sova Center reported that three followers of the Islamic movement Tablighi Jamaat were sentenced in the Omsk region, which was recognized as an extremist organization in Russia.

The verdict was delivered on 13 January 2022 by the Kirovsky District Court of Omsk. Sultan Dyusekenov was convicted for organizing the activities of an extremist organization (Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code), and Abdimomun Mamytov and Murat Baltabayev for participating in this organization (Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code). All of them were sentenced to a fine of 20 to 90 thousand rubles.

On 30 March, the Omsk Regional Court considered the prosecutor’s appeal and toughened the sentence. Dyusekenov was finally sentenced to two years in a general regime colony with deprivation of the right to engage in public organizations for three years and restriction of liberty for a year and a half. Mamytov and Baltabayev received a year and a half probationsentence with additional penalties in the form of a three-year ban on participation in the work of public organizations and restriction of freedom for eight months.

The accused were detained in the spring of 2021 as part of a group of 11 people. According to the investigation, they “were spreading the ideology of Tablighi Jamaat using specialized religious literature.”

According to the investigation, Dyusekenov was the head of the “cell” of Tablighi Jamaat, which functioned from 24 July 2020 to 3 April 2021, in which he attracted Mamytov and Baltabayev. The latter, the court stated, were entrusted with the responsibility of promoting the activities of Tablighi Jamaat among the local population.

The Tablighi Jamaat religious movement was banned in Russia in 2009, in the opinion of Sova Center, without proper grounds. This association was engaged in the propaganda of fundamentalist Islam, but was not noticed in any calls for violence, and therefore the persecution of its supporters, in is unjustified.

See HRWF report about Tablighi Jamaat here

 

 

Three residents of Dagestan suspects of participating in the non-existing religious organization “Nurjular”

SOVA CENTER/ HRWF (22.03.2022) – A criminal case has been initiated in Dagestan under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code.

On 22 March 2022, the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Dagestan announced the opening of proceedings under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization) against three residents of the republic.

According to the investigation, from 2000 to 2017, the suspects participated in the activities of the international religious association Nurcular, recognized as extremist in 2008. They took part in meetings “to study the ideological sources of this extremist organization, according to the Investigative Committee.

The criminal case was initiated based on the materials of the regional FSB of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The opening of a similar case against a resident of Dagestan Izberbash became known in January. Earlier, in 2021, a court in Izberbash terminated a number of cases of alleged Nurcular participants investigated under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code.

Sova Center considers the Nurjular ban illegal. His recognition as an extremist organization in 2008 was the result of unreasonable bans on the books of the Turkish Islamic theologian of the moderate direction Said Nursi – for promoting the superiority of Islam over other religions.

In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that by banning these books, Russian courts violated Art. 10 of the European Convention guaranteeing freedom of expression. The opinion of the Sova Center is that the Nurjular organization does not exist and Russian Muslims studying Nursi’s heritage are not part of any such organization. Nevertheless, the Nurjular association is banned in Russia as an extremist organization, as a result of which Muslims reading and discussing Nursi’s books are prosecuted.

See HRWF report on Nurjular/ Said Nursi followers here

Photo: wikipedia.org

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: Several cases in courts for ‘illegal’ missionary work

Several cases in courts for ‘illegal’ missionary work

By Willy Fautré

HRWF with SOVA CENTER (18.03.2022) – Several religious leaders and communities are currently prosecuted for ‘illegal’ missionary work on the basis of Art. 5.26, Part 3, of the Administrative Code (implementation of activities by a religious organization without specifying its official full name, including the publication or distribution of literature with incomplete or knowingly false markings within the framework of missionary activities).

On 10 March 2022, the Prokhladnensky District Court of Kabardino-Balkaria found Timofey Boronin, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, guilty of ‘illegal’ missionary work and fined him 30,000 rubles.

The court decision states that “in 2021, near the Azbuka Flower store in Prokhladny, Timofey Boronin distributed, as part of missionary activities, religious literature to citizens that is not marked with the name of this organization in order to involve them in this structure.” The pastor pleaded not guilty and intends to appeal this decision.

Earlier, the owner of this store Nina Boronina was fined for a similar offense. The community has also already been fined.

This is also the case for the Evangelical Church “Teign of Faith”, in the Samara region, but on 17 February, the church appealed to the Sixth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction.

This is the case as well for an Adventist Church in Kaspiysk (Republic of Dagestan), located on the Caspian See. The religious organization has appealed this decision.

On 18 February 2022, the Magistrate’s Court of Judicial Precinct No. 31 of the Belogorsky Judicial District of the Republic of Crimea recognized L. Palyokha guilty of “illegal” missionary activities under Art. 5.26, Part 4 of the Administrative Code and fined it 7000 rubles.

The court considered that “by disseminating information about her faith to persons who are not members (followers) of her religious association, and without having a decision of the general meeting of the religious group to grant it appropriate powers,” she had carried out illegal missionary activities.

On 16 February 20222, the Tutaevsky City Court of the Yaroslavl Region found Umejon Toshev, a citizen of Tajikistan, guilty under Art. 5.26, Part 5 of the Administrative Code (illegal missionary work). The court fined him 30,000 rubles with administrative expulsion from Russia.

The court concluded that Toshev, a foreign citizen, prayed and delivered a sermon without being a leader, a member of a collegial body or a priest of a religious organization, which constitutes the offence of ‘illegal missionary work’.

(*) 1000 rubles – 10 dollars

 

A Tabligh Jamaat Muslim sentenced to 2 years in prison

In addition to severe restrictions to freedom of expression and missionary activities, members of banned peaceful, but so-called extremist, religious movements continue to be arrested and sentenced to prison terms for practicing their faith.

On March 16, 2022, it became known that the court in Saratov sentenced a 51-year-old local resident to two years in a general regime colony with restriction of liberty for a period of eight months under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization) for involvement in the banned religious association Tablighi Jamaat.

The case was initiated in April 2021. Representatives of the IC stated that the accused “positioned himself” as a supporter of Tablighi Jamaat, “directly organized and personally took part in regular meetings, during which extremist ideology was promoted among residents of the Saratov region, conducted explanatory work”.

The Tablighi Jamaat religious movement was banned in Russia in 2009, without proper grounds in the opinion of SOVA Center in Moscow. This association was engaged in the propaganda of fundamentalist Islam, but was not noticed in any calls for violence, and therefore the persecution of its supportersis unjustified, according to SOVA Center.

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: Tatarstan armed forces approved the prison sentence of a Muslim

The armed forces of Tatarstan approved the sentence of a Said Nursi Muslim

The real term assigned to Gabdrakhman Naumov under Art. 282.2 and 282.3 of the Criminal Code.

Sova Center (15.02.2022) – https://bit.ly/3pk94m0 – On February 8, 2022, the Supreme Court of Tatarstan considered the verdict of Gabdrakhman (Albert) Naumov, accused of organizing the activities of the extremist organization “Nurjular” (Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code) and financing of extremism (Part 1 of Art. 282.3 of the Criminal Code), and left unchanged the sentence of six and a half years in prison. The verdict handed down on November 2, 2021 by the Volga District Court of Kazan entered into force.

 

Naumov was a teacher at the Russian Islamic University, a member of the Ulema Council of the SAM of Russia, an imam-khatyb of the Al-Iman parish of the mukhtasibat of the Soviet and Volga regions of Kazan. In March 2020, he was accused of involvement in the activities of the banned religious association “Nurjular” and detained.

 

According to the investigation, since 2015, Naumov “organized the activities of secret groups” and held “secret propaganda meetings” “Nurjular”. In addition, from the point of view of the investigation with which the court agreed, in November 2015 he organized the project “Yashlar Bistase” (“Youth Sloboda”) – Sunday courses on the basics of Islam for schoolchildren in the villages of Tatarstan. The investigation claimed that Naumov created this project, using other citizens, to increase the number of Nurjular followers in the republic and financed it through remittances: allocated money for transport, food and accommodation.

 

The verdict also mentions Naumov’s connection with graduates of the Muhammadiya madrasah Nail Vakhitov and Salavat Muzafarov, who were convicted under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (Vakhitov received seven years in prison, Muzafarov – four years).

 

According to the lawyer, during the searches, Naumov was found two books by Said Nursi (alleged ideologist of “Nurjular”). However, according to the defender, the investigation did not provide evidence that Naumov preached a prohibited ideology. The lawyer also stated that witnesses, one of whom was classified, claimed Naumov’s membership in Nurcular only from the words of others.

 

We consider the Nurjular ban illegal. His recognition as an extremist organization in 2008 was the result of unreasonable bans on the books of the Turkish Islamic theologian of the moderate direction Said Nursi – for promoting the superiority of Islam over other religions. Recall that the European Court of Human Rights in 2018 ruled that by banning these books, Russian courts violated Art. 10 of the European Convention guaranteeing freedom of expression. We believe that Russian Muslims studying Nursi’s heritage do not constitute a single organization. Nevertheless, the Nurcular association is banned in Russia as an extremist organization, as a result of which Muslims reading and discussing Nursi’s books are prosecuted.

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: A Jehovah’s Witness fined as an objector to military service

A Jehovah’s Witness objector to military service fined for evasion of conscription

Sova Center (21.01.2022) – https://bit.ly/3IHi6k8On January 17, 2022, the Nevelsk City Court of the Sakhalin Region found Jehovah’s Witness Yevgeny Kulakov guilty under Part 1 of Art. 328 of the Criminal Code (evasion of conscription) and fined him 120,000 rubles.

The believer said that he was denied the right to alternative civil service. The court, according to him, provided false information that he, as a student, participated in military shootings, which means that he misled the state about his religious beliefs. At the same time, the organizer of the shootings denied this information, saying that no shootings were carried out on the day Kulakov was supposed to have taken part in them.

The prosecutor requested a punishment of 100,000 rubles fine, but the judge imposed a larger fine.

Evgeny’s parents are accused under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization and participation in the activities of an extremist organization).

 

Picture: Old apartment block in Nevelsk on Sakhalin Island (Credit: Alamy)

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: A Tablighi Muslim sentenced to 3 years in a penal colony

A Tablighi Jamaat Muslim sentenced to three years in a penal colony

Mikhail Kolotylin was convicted under Art. 282.2 Criminal Code for organizing Tablighi Jamaat activities in the Volgograd region.

Human Rights Without Frontiers urges the Russian authorities to release Muslim prisoners belonging to the peaceful movement of Tablighi Jamaat and to put an end to the ban on this non-violent movement.

HRWF/ SOVA Center (11.12.2021) – On December 2, 2021, the Soviet District Court of Volgograd sentenced 51-year-old local Mikhail Kolotilin, accused of involvement in the Tablighi Jamaat movement banned in Russia. He was found guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist organization (Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced to three years in a penal colony.

 

The Kolotilin case was submitted to the court in September 2021. Details of the accusation were not specified.

Earlier, in July 2020, it was reported that six suspects in the Tablighi Jamaat cell organization were detained in the Volgograd region.

The religious movement “Tablighi Jamaat” was banned in Russia in 2009, in the opinion of SOVA Center in Moscow, without proper grounds. This association was engaged in the propaganda of fundamentalist Islam, but was not noticed in any calls for violence, and therefore the persecution of its supporters, in the opinion of SOVA, is unjustified.

 

List of Tabligh Jamaat Muslims in prison or with an unknown sentence

KAMCHYBEKOV, Islambek (6 years ½)

KOZHAMKULOV, Shakir Temishevich (6 years ½)

SUYUNDUK, Uulu Kanybek, (6 years ½)

HALMATOV, Aybek (Unknown sentence, Art 282.2, Part 2, July 7, 2021)

KALBAEV, Artyk (Unknown sentence, Art 282.2, Part 1, July 7, 2021)

KOZONOV, Altynbek (Unknown sentence, Art 282.2, Part 2, July 7, 2021)

KUSHUEV, Murzy (Unknown sentence, Art 282.2, Part 2, July 7, 2021)

MAMAZHUNUSOV, Aybek (Unknown sentence, Art 282.2, Part 1, July 7, 2021)

UULU, Asan (Correct the spelling)/ (Unknown sentence, Art 282.2, Part 2, July 7, 2021)

 

Note:  As of 10 December the prison was still unknown as the publication of the court decision is forbidden in such cases, according to SOVA Center (Moscow).

 

What is Tabligh(i) Jamaat?

HRWF Annual Report 2020 – Tabligh Jamaat (sometimes spelled Tablighi Jama’at) is a revivalist missionary movement within Islam that was founded in India in the early 20th century. The term means ‘those who preach’ and it is sometimes called the ‘Society for Spreading Faith’. Adherents do not proselytise to non-Muslims. Instead their aim is to revive the faith of less devout Muslims and to follow Islamic religious practices more vigorously.

 

Tabligh Jamaat originated in the Deobandi School of Sunni Islam in Uttar Pradesh in north India. Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi (1885-1944), an Islamic scholar and Sufi teacher, is credited as its founder. Its world headquarters are located in the New Delhi suburb of Basti Nizamuddin.

 

Tabligh Jamaat adheres to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic doctrine and refrains from participating in political struggles. Its aim is to make Muslims more pious and to propagate Islam. It does not use or advocate for violence, and it also does not call for the overthrow of the political regime in Russia. The Moscow-based Sova Centre and other human rights groups monitoring the activities of Tabligh Jamaat in Russia have never found any evidence linking Tabligh Jamaat to terrorism or acts of violence. Nevertheless, the Russian Supreme Court banned this movement in a ruling dated 7 May 2009 based on accusations of extremism, spreading propaganda of hatred and intentions of seizing power.

 

The movement has grown significantly over time. It is said to have around 80 million followers in 150 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe[1] but it is particularly prevalent in South and Central Asia.

 

In Europe its headquarters, complete with a madrasah (religious school), are in the UK with about 50,000 followers in Dewsbury (Yorkshire). There are also centres in London, Glasgow, Leicester, and Birmingham. In France, Tabligh Jamaat has been able to attract a significant number of Muslims of Arabian and African origin and is estimated to have about 100,000 followers. Its activity is concentrated in the larger Paris region. In Spain it operates from Barcelona among a quickly growing number of Muslim migrants.

 

In North America, Tabligh Jamaat has met some success in gaining converts among African Americans and Caribbean immigrants. Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York City, and Washington, D.C., are the major centres of Tabligh Jamaat activities in the US.

 

Tabligh Jamaat adherents never constitute themselves into formal ‘trusts’ or ‘companies’, and shun political, legal, or social engagement with the wider world. They have — intentionally — few formal points of contact within their communities.

 

Annual gatherings (called ijtima) are held in various countries and attract large crowds. The largest ones occur in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The annual World Gathering in Tongi, Bangladesh, (called Bishwa Ijtima) is the most popular Tabligh Jamaat pilgrimage in the world with approximately five million people attending each year, significantly larger than the traditional Hajj to Mecca.

 

Photo : Credit: Stock – Alamy

 

 

[1] Taylor, Jenny, “Understanding and engaging with the Tabligh Jamaat,” Lausanne Movement, November 2015.https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2015-11/understanding-and-engaging-with-the-tablighi-jamaat.

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website


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