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Tajik Religious Cleric, Relatives Convicted Of Being Members Of Banned Religious Group

Abdulaziz Akramov, one the convicted cleric's sons, used to host a television program that criticized terrorism. (file photo)

DUSHANBE -- A Muslim cleric and his relatives in Tajikistan's southern region of Khatlon have been sentenced for being members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

Bobojon Sherali, a judge at the Khatlon Regional Court, told RFE/RL on June 9 that an imam of the Central Mosque in the Vose district, Muhammadsaid Akramov, and his relatives were sentenced the previous day.

Akramov and three of his brothers received suspended prison terms, while 10 other defendants, including Akramov’s son, son-in-law, and nephews, were sentenced to prison terms of between five and seven years, Sherali said.

Relatives of those imprisoned said the sentences will be appealed.

The trial was held behind closed doors and the authorities did not give any details of the proceedings.

Akramov and several of his children studied at Islamic schools in Egypt and returned to Tajikistan in 2014 at the Tajik government's request.

One of Akramov’s sons, Abdulaziz Akramov, used to host a television program that criticized terrorism.

Tajik Prosecutor-General Yusuf Rahmon said in January that Tajik police had arrested 113 people on suspicion of being members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

"The group's goal is to forcibly overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state, and it has been banned as a terrorist and extremist organization in many countries," Rahmon said at the time.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928 by the Islamic scholar Hassan al-Banna.

The group's teachings have spread internationally and have influenced various Islamic groups, movements, and parties around the world -- some of which do not use the same name.

The group claims to be peaceful but has been banned in many countries as an extremist organization.

Tajik authorities banned the Muslim Brotherhood as an extremist group in 2006.