01/09/2009, 00.00
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Supreme court of Tajikistan outlaws Salafi Islam

The importation and distribution of its religious material and its practice of worship have been outlawed. The fundamentalist origin of the movement could "threaten" order and national security. Political experts see its faithful as the true opposition to the central government.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "The current of Salafi Islam has been outlawed." The announcement was made yesterday by Makhmadali Ioussoupov, spokesman of the supreme court of Tajikistan. The country's highest legal body has ordered the interdiction of activities by the Salafi current, and has prohibited the importation and distribution of its religious material in the country.

The religious authorities of Tajikistan see Salafism as a potential threat, capable of dividing society both because of its worship practices, and because of the fundamentalist heritage that determines its particular traits. They invite the Salafi faithful to come to the mosques for prayer, and to get used to the customs of the Sunni Hanafi majority, in order to avoid conflict or division between the two Muslim movements in the country. Islamic terrorism, especially in the Sunni world, is rooted in Salafism, a literal attachment to the tradition of the past and to those who have gone beore (salaf), and a rigid interpretation of doctrine.

According to some local political experts, the Salafis are the true heart of opposition to the government, promoters of popular "discontent," and "could at any moment promote a struggle to overthrow the established order."

The Salafi community, although it is not officially registered, numbers about 10,000 faithful, although its leaders say it has more than 20,000 practitioners. Tajikistan has a population of about 7.5 million inhabitants, 83% of whom are of the Sunni Islamic religion. 13.9% say they are agnostic, while Christians are about 2.1% of the total.

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