Tajikistan rounds up Muslim Brotherhood suspects
Prosecutor General Yusuf Rahmon said 20 university staff, two foreigners and one government official from the northern city of Isfara were being held.
“The group’s goal is to forcibly overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state, and it has been banned as a terrorist and extremist organisation in many countries,” Rahmon told the media.
“Among the detainees, there is one employee of the city administration of Isfara and about 20 teachers from various universities in Tajikistan,” he said.
There have reportedly been other detentions of Muslim Brotherhood suspects in recent weeks.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni group founded in Egypt in 1928 by the scholar Hassan al-Banna.
It aims at restoring what is considered a purer form of Islam and is rooted in defiance against the cultural impositions of British imperialism.
The group’s teachings have influenced various organisations around the world, some of which do not use the name.
The group has been banned in many countries. Egypt and Turkey have had strained ties ever since the Turkish-backed Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi was toppled in 2013 by the Egyptian military.
The Tajik authorities outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood in 2006.
Muslims in Tajikistan’s second-largest city, Khujand (pictured), have been ordered to abandon a mosque that is being converted into a cinema.
Approximately 2,000 Tajik mosques have been closed since 2017 because of an alleged lack of required documentation. But the targeting of a large, popular mosque suggests the campaign is being stepped up. Mosques have been turned into cafes, sewing factories and preschools.
Bahtiyor Qosimov, the culture department chief in the Sughd regional government, reportedly said Khujand lacked cinemas.
The Nuri Islom mosque, which has a capacity of 5,000, would be converted into an 80 cinema, he said.
“Other than showing films, we will also have meetings for film aficionados. After showing the films, people will be able to get together and discuss what they have seen. That is what they do in Europe,” Qosimov purportedly said.
The new cinema is due to open in March, in time for the Persian New Year.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon last year called for schools and hospitals to be built, rather than mosques.
Rahmon, his family and government chiefs publicly performed the haj to Saudi Arabia in January 2016.
But he also looks to control the practice of Islam.
Bearded men and women in Islamic clothing are regularly singled out for harassment by the authorities.
Sermons are approved by the authorities and often heap praise on the government. Larger mosques are fitted with CCTV.
Khujand. Picture credit: Flickr