KAZAN, Russia -- Gabdrakhman Naumov, a noted Islamic scholar in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, has been arrested on suspicion of creating and running a branch of a banned Islamic group.
Naumov's lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that his client was apprehended about a month ago on suspicion of being the leader of the Nurcular Islamic group.
Naumov is well-known in Tatarstan as a teacher at the Russian Islamic University and as the former imam of a mosque in Tatarstan’s capital, Kazan.
"His arrest has been a shock for many in Tatarstan. Many religious and civil rights figures support Naumov. Nobody believes that he may be a leader of some sort of an extremist group," Nagiyev said, adding that his client has rejected the charge.
Nagiyev also said that law enforcement authorities in Tatarstan have already added Naumov to a list of extremists, although his trial is still pending.
Since 2013, several alleged members of Nurcular have been arrested across Russia.
Nurcular was founded in Turkey by Islamic scholar Said Nursi, who died in 1960. It has been banned in Russia since 2008.
The Nurcular movement, which has millions of followers around the globe, especially in Turkey, has been banned in Russia since 2008.
Russian authorities have said the group promotes the creation of an Islamic state that encompasses all Turkic-speaking areas and countries in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia's Turkic-speaking regions in the North Caucasus and Volga region.