Muhtadi Abdulqodirov, the nephew of Tajikistan’s grand mufti, has received suspended sentence for inciting regional and religious enmity, according to Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service.   

A court in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni has considered his case, and in a ruling handed down at the Ismoili Somoni Court last week, High Court in London Abdulqodirov reportedly received suspended sentence.  He must report to relevant bodies every month.   

Recall, criminal proceedings have been instituted against Muhtadi Abdulqodirov under the provisions of Article 189 (1) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code -- incitement of national racial, regional or religious enmity.

This article stipulates that incitement of national racial, regional or religious enmity is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Earlier, media reports said that in 2013 Abdulqodirov was accused of propagating Salafism and criminal proceedings were instituted against him under the provisions of Article 307 of Tajikistan’s Penal Code –public calls for carrying out extremist activity and public justification of extremism.  Since that time, he had reportedly lived in Saudi Arabia.             

An official source in the Interior Ministry says Abdulqodirov returned to Tajikistan in November 2018.  In late November, he, using a remark to Article 307 regarding voluntary renunciation, applied to the prosecutor’s office for decision on amnesty but was detained by officers of the Security Committee for National Security (SCNS), the source said.  

The Supreme Court of Tajikistan added Salafis to its list of extremist religious groups prohibited from operating in the country on January 9, 2009.

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

The Salafis promote a strict form of Sunni Islam based on the early period of Islam and do not recognize other branches of Islam, such as Shi’a and Sufism.  It is frequently referred to as Wahabbism, although Salafis reject this as derogatory.

According to some experts, the Salafi movement has been active in Tajikistan since 2005 and some media reports say the movement claims to have recruited more than 20,000 believers aged 25 to 35 in the country.

Leaders of the Salafi movement in Tajikistan are also young men in their 20s and early 30s.  They came to Tajikistan after graduating from Islamic schools in Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.