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Tajikistan Arrests Five Imams On Extremism Charges

  • RFE/RL's Tajik Service

Tajik authorities have arrested five mosque imams for allegedly promoting extremist ideas and recruiting young people to join Islamist militant groups abroad.

Hasan Boboshukurov, the head of the religious affairs department in Konibodom, said on May 19 that four of the men led mosque prayers and sermons in village mosques in the northern Tajik district until their arrests last week.

A local law enforcement official told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that the group "had been actively working to recruit young people to take part in wars abroad."

The official said the five imams' activities came to the authorities' attention after a tip from three other imams arrested in the same district last month.

Fifteen Muslim clerics were arrested on extremism charges in Konibodom and other districts of the northern Sughd Province between January and April.

Tajik authorities say more than 1,000 Tajik nationals have left to Syria and Iraq in recent years to join militant groups there.