Six residents Khujand, the capital of the northern Sughd province, have been jailed for membership in an ultraconservative Islamic Salafist movement.

The Khuajnd city court has sentenced Muidinjon Mirzoyev, 37, Khairullo Ismoilov, 35, and Hasanjon Jabborov, 33, to five years in prison on December 20.  The sentence followed their conviction on charges of participating in an extremist group (Article 307’ (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).  They will serve their terms in a high-security penal colony

Meanwhile, three other defendants -- Naimjon Toshmatov, 32, Sheroz Jourayev, 26, and Abdushukur Kholiqov, 38 -- were sentenced to six months in jail each for not reporting a crime (Article 347 of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).  They will serve their terms in a general regime penal colony.

Judge Firdavs Huseinzoda, who presided over the trial, says they were detained by officers the State Committee for National Security (SCNS)’s office for Sughd in Hun eths year. 

The Salafi movement or Salafist movement is an ultra-conservative orthodox movement within Sunni Islam that references the doctrine known as Salafism.  The movement first appeared in Tajikistan in the early 2000s, having been brought back to the country by Tajiks that had taken refuge in Pakistan during the civil war.

The movement claims to follow a strict and pure form of Islam, but Tajik clerics say the Salafists’ radical stance is similar to that of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Salafists do not recognize other branches of Islam, such as Shi’a and Sufism.  The movement is frequently referred to as Wahhabism, although Salafists reject this as derogatory.

The Tajik authorities banned Salafism as an illegal group on January 8, 2009, saying the Salafist movement represents a potential threat to national security and the Supreme Court added the movement to its list of religious groups prohibited from operating in the country.

On December 8, 2014, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan formally labeled the banned Salafi group as an extremist organization.  The ruling reportedly followed a request submitted to the court by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.  The ruling means that the group’s website and printed materials are also banned.

The overwhelming majority of Tajiks are followers of the Hanafi madhab, a more liberal branch of Sunni Islam.