Trial over Salafi movement leader supporters begins in Tajikistan
The Tajikistan Supreme Court has started hearings in the case against seven members of the Salafi Islamic religious movement who are accused of inciting religious animosity, a court official told Interfax on Tuesday, Interfax reported.
The accused were arrested in June 2009. 43 members were initially detained but most were soon released.
Among the accused is the Tajik leader of the Salafi movement, Sirodzhiddin Abdurnakhmonov, his son and five other people, most active missionaries of the movement.
The defendants face up to 12 years in prison.
This is the first trial concerning Salafi members since the Tajikistan Supreme Court officially banned the movement in January 2009 due to the risk it posed to the country's national security.
Salafi (deriving from the Arabic word which means 'to be the first') is a fundamentalist doctrine which came into existence in Saudi Arabia in the 14th century. It rejects any manifestation of Islam other than its own and, in particular, condemns Shia Islam. Shia Muslims, who have a large diaspora in Tajikistan (around 300,000), are regarded by Salafis as "kafirs," or "non-Muslims."
It is believed that the Salafis were receiving funding from Saudi Arabia.