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Six Tajiks Jailed Members Of Banned Islamic Group

KHATLON, Tajikistan -- A court in Tajikistan's southern region of Khatlon has sentenced six local men after convicting them of being adherents to a banned branch of Islam.

The Abdurahmon Jomi district court said on June 14 that it sentenced the six men to prison terms of between three and seven years.

Relatives of the sentenced men told RFE/RL that the verdicts, handed down on June 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 many Salafis reject this as derogatory.

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