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Tajik Prosecutors, Religious Leaders Seek to Ban Salafi Movement

DUSHANBE (RFE/RL) -- The office of the Khatlon Province prosecutor has called on the Tajik authorities to officially ban the Salafi religious movement in the country.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan's Religious Council has called on Salafi followers to abandon their beliefs or to stay away from mosques.

The Salafi movement promotes a strict form of Sunni Islam and does not recognize Islam's other branches -- such as Shi'a and Sufism. It has reportedly been growing in Tajikistan in recent months with its leaders claiming they have over 20,000 supporters in the country.

Tajik officials, however, downplay the figures putting them at several hundreds. The majority of Tajiks are followers of Hanafia, a more liberal branch of Sunni Islam.

Concerns have been expressed by government officials and religious leaders that Salafi followers may be promoting sectarian division and animosity in Tajikistan.