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Popular Kyrgyz Imam On Trial For Extremism

The imam of a large mosque in southern Kyrgyzstan has gone on trial for inciting religious discord.

The Kyrgyz human rights groups Bir Duyno (One World) and Kylym Shamy (Torch of the Century) said security measures were beefed up near the Osh court building as Imam Rashod Qori Kamolov's trial began on July 24.

Kamolov, an influential religious cleric and the imam at the As-Sarakhsi Mosque in the Osh's Kara-Suu district, was arrested in February on suspicion of being an active member of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group and for calling for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Kyrgyzstan.

He pleaded not guilty.

Kamolov has been detained by authorities in Kyrgyzstan previously, sparking large protests in Kara-Suu by some of his thousands of followers.

Kamolov's father, Rafiq Qori Kamalov, was the imam at the same mosque before being killed in 2006 in an operation that Uzbek security forces took part in.

Based on reporting by and Interfax