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Tajik Supreme Court Bans Salafi Islam

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Supreme Court has banned the Salafi branch of Islam.

Court spokesman Mahmadali Yusufov told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that "for the security of Tajikistan and defense of its citizens' legal rights, as well as the prevention of national, racial, and religious enmity in Tajikistan, the court has decided to ban the Salafi group."

The Salafis promote a strict form of Sunni Islam based on the early period of Islam and do not recognize other branches of Islam, such as Shi'a and Sufism. It is frequently referred to as Wahabbism, although Salafis reject this as derogatory.

There are estimated to be several thousand followers of Salafism in Tajikistan, mostly young people and many of whom graduated from Islamic schools in Arab countries.

The overwhelming majority of Tajiks are followers of Hanafia, a more liberal branch of Sunni Islam.