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Tajik Imam, Fours Others Jailed On Extremism Charges

DUSHANBE -- Tajik authorities say an imam and four other residents of the northern region of Sughd have been jailed for being followers of a banned branch of Islam.

A judge in the Bobojon Gafur District Court, Boir Zoirzoda, told RFE/RL on April 19 that Imam Hamid Karimov had been sentenced to eight years in prison for inciting religious hatred and propagating the ideas of the banned Salafi brand of Islam.

Four other local Salafi followers were sentenced to seven years each, Zoirzoda said.

The Salafi branch of Islam was branded as extremist and banned in Tajikistan in 2009.

Salafists follow a strict form of Sunni Islam and do not recognize other branches of Islam, such as Shi'a Islam and Sufism.

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

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