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Mufti Of Russia's Mordovia Region Fined For Distributing 'Extremist' Books

Mufti Zaki Aizatullin (file photo)
Mufti Zaki Aizatullin (file photo)

SARANSK, Russia -- A court in Russia's Republic of Mordovia has fined the region's Mufti Zaki Aizatullin after finding him guilty of distributing books deemed as extremist.

Aizatullin's lawyer, Marat Ashimov, told RFE/RL on October 26 that his client and the Muftiyat were fined 2,000 rubles ($26) and 100,000 rubles ($1,310), respectively.

He said Aizatullin and his lawyers planned to appeal the ruling.

Investigators said the case against Aizatullin was part of a larger investigation into alleged activities in Mordovia and neighboring regions of Tablighi Jamaat (Messenger's Assembly), a Sunni movement banned in Russia

The case was launched after police found five copies of a book in Aizatullin’s mosque in July. Late Indian Islamic scholar Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi, who was one of the Tablighi Jamaat's leaders, is the author of the book, titled Selected Khadises.

Investigators have alleged that Aizatullin's nephew and other members of the mosque had sold copies of the book to other people.

Aizatullin and members of his mosque have denied that allegation.

Aizatullin and his lawyers have also insisted that the books were purchased in 2012 at a bookstore in the city of Kazan, the capital of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan. They said the books were sold openly without a warning of any kind.

Tablighi Jamaat, which was founded in India in 1926, describes itself as a pacifist organization that is not involved in politics.

The group was branded as extremist and officially banned in Russia in May 2009.

It is also outlawed in most Central Asian former Soviet republics.