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Tajik Arrested For Starting Women's Branch Of Banned Islamic Group

QURGHONTEPPA, Tajikistan -- A Tajik man has been charged with creating a women's organization that belongs to the banned Islamic group Jamaat ut-Tabligh, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tolibjon Azimov, an aide to Khatlon's provincial prosecutor, told RFE/RL on July 11 that Murodbek Qalandarov created a branch of the women's organization Masturot ("hidden" or "closed" in Arabic) in the town of Sarband, in the southwestern Khatlon Province, 120 kilometers south of Dushanbe.

He said Qalandarov joined Jamaat ut-Tabligh in 2008 while he was a student.

Azimov noted that last summer Suhrob Sharifov, 31, was fined 26,700 somonis (about $5,700) for founding a provincial branch of Masturot.

In December, four women aged between 23 and 37 were accused of belonging to Masturot, but were subsequently released under an amnesty. All four are wives of imprisoned Jamaat ut-Tabligh activists.

Tajikistan's Supreme Court outlawed the Jamaat ut-Tabligh group five years ago.