Imam of a mosque in Kushonion district of Khatlon province, Abdulhannon Mannonov has got a jail term not for kicking the musicians out of his nephew’s wedding but for watching and distributing videos of the EU-based opposition organization called the National Alliance of Tajikistan Alliance (Paymoni Millii Tojikiston - PMT).

Recall, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, citing Mannonov’s defense lawyer Saidjabbor Aliyev, reported on April 11 that the Khatlon regional court sentenced a 51-year-old Abdulhannon Mannonov, an imam of one of mosques in Khatlon’s Kushoniyon district, to six years in prison in early April.  The sentence reportedly followed his conviction on charges of calls for extremism.   

At the time, the defense lawyer refrained from giving further details.  

Mannonov’s name became known in January this year after the video was posted on social networks, where he tried to forbid the guests to sing and dance at his nephew’s wedding, kicked them out and used foul language. 

Social media users were reportedly outraged by the video and many criticized the mullah’s actions. 

Abdulhannon Mannonov was detained on January 27 and police launched investigation into the case.  It reportedly turned out that Mannonov, hearing music at the house of his brother Abdulmannon, who was marrying his son Abubakr, scolded the nephew and kicked out the guests.  

During questioning, Abdulhannon Mannonov reportedly said that he had urged his nephew to hold his wedding without songs and dances, according to the rules of the Islamic wedding, but he had not listened, which had made mullah angry.  

While moderate Muslims generally don't object to music and dancing per se, a large portion of the faithful view sexually suggestive movement, racy lyrics, and unmarried couples dancing together as haram, because they may lead to un-Islamic behavior.

Meanwhile, Mannonov’s defense lawyer told Radio Ozodi on April 14 by phone that the mullah was jailed for watching and distributing PMT’s videos.  

“During the course of the trial, it became known that my client registered with YouTube under the nickname of “Mullah Abdullo” and was distributing video materials of the National Alliance of Tajikistan.  I would call the verdict unfair and too harsh if it were handed down for his act at the wedding.  Kicking guests out of a wedding is just a disorderly conduct.  But it's about the distribution of videos of an organization banned in Tajikistan,” the defense lawyer said.  

The National Alliance of Tajikistan (Paymoni Millii Tojikiston) – a group uniting several opposition and movements based in the European Union – is the eighteenth organization banned in Tajikistan

The Supreme Court of Tajikistan has labeled the National Alliance of Tajikistan as a terrorist and extremist organization at the request of the Prosecutor-General’s Office.

The Alliance’s activities have been banned in territory of Tajikistan since August 15, 2019, according to the Supreme Court press center.    

The Alliance’s website is blocked in Tajikistan and distribution of materials of this organization is prohibited in the country.  

Established in Warsaw in September 2018 at the gathering of Tajik opposition activists living in various countries of the European Union, the National Alliance of Tajikistan is an opposition coalition consisting of four Tajik dissident parties and organizations: the Forum of Tajik Freethinkers, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the Association of Central Asian Migrants, and the People's Movement "Reforms and Development in Tajikistan".

The Alliance reportedly represents a broad section of Tajik society, including secular and traditional figures, and is based in Poland.

According to data from the Supreme Court, the National Alliance of Tajikistan is the eighteenth organization banned in Tajikistan.

Before the end of 2013, the list of organizations banned in Tajikistan included Hizb ut-Tahrir, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan, Taliban, the Society of the Muslim Brothers (better known as the Muslim Brotherhood), Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous), the Islamic Society of Pakistan, Jamaati Tablighot, Sozmoni Tablighot, Tojikistoni Ozod and Jamaati Ansarullah.

Later five other organizations were included on this list, namely Salafi Group, Group 24, Islamic State group, Jabhat al-Nusra and IRPT.