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Members Of Sufi Group Jailed In Kazakhstan

Group leader Ismatulla Abdugappar in court in Almaty
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Nine members of a Sufi group in Kazakhstan have been jailed after being convicted on charges including religious extremism, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The nine were found guilty by a court in Almaty on October 19 of religious extremism, unlawful restraint, and causing damage to health by practicing faith healing.

The leader of the group, Ismatulla Abdulgappar, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and Sayat Ybyraev , a professor at the Kazakh National Technical University, to 12 years. Seven others received prison terms ranging from two to nine years. They were all arrested in August 2010.

The nine were accused of holding other members of the group against their will and preventing sick members, on religious grounds, from getting professional medical help.

The group consider themselves followers of Yassawi Sufism.

Khoja Ahmed Yassawi was the 12th-century head of a regional school of Sufism, a mystic movement in Islam that began in the ninth century.

Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from everything but God."

Read more in Kazakh here