A resident of the western city of Tursunzoda has been jailed for membership in the Salafist movement.

According to information posted on the website of the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Tajikistan, Abdulloh Haitov joined the Salafist movement in 2010 while he was in Russia as a labor migrant.

Upon returning to Tajikistan in 2020, Haitov reportedly began propagating Salafi ideology among his home-folks, calling on them to join the Salafist movement.

He has been detained by officers of the Prosecutor-General’s Office and criminal proceedings have been instituted against him under the provisions of Article 307 (3) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code – organizing activity of an extremist group

A court reportedly found Haitov guilty under the above article and sentenced him to five years and six months in prison.  Haitov will serve his jail term in a high-security penal colony. 

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.