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Tajik Court Sentences Four Convicted As Members Of Banned Faith

A court in Tajikistan has sentenced four men to prison after convicting them of being adherents of a banned branch of Islam.

The Supreme Court said on December 11 that a court in the southern city of Qurghon-Teppa had sentenced three followers of Salafi Islam to five years in prison and a fourth defendant to six years and two months in prison.

Relatives of the convicts said the charges were trumped up and that the defendants are not Salafists.

They told RFE/RL that the verdicts, handed down on December 10, will be appealed.

The Salafi branch of Islam was branded as extremist and banned in Tajikistan in 2008.

Salafists follow a strict form of Sunni Islam and do not recognize other branches of Islam, such as Shi'a and Sufism. It is frequently referred to as Wahhabism, although Salafis reject this as derogatory.

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