19 October 2012, 16:30
Kazan imam accused of extremism
Kazan, October 19, Interfax - Investigators from the Federal Security Service's Department for Tatarstan are working on a criminal case against Rustem Safin, imam of Kazan's al-Ihlas mosque, a law enforcement source told Interfax.
The investigators determined that Safin organized illegal meetings between members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international terrorist organization banned in Russia, in February-July 2012, and encouraged Muslims to get involved with the organization.
A criminal case has been opened on the basis of Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code (organizing activities of an extremist organization). The mosque and Safin's residence were searched on Wednesday and he was also summoned to the Federal Security Service's Department for Tatarstan for questioning.
Expert evaluations have been ordered for all print, audio, and video materials and computer equipment seized during the searches.
The Federal Security Service's Department for Tatarstan declined to comment on the situation, but confirmed the fact of the searches, which an official with the department said "were part of the investigative actions."
"Safin has not been detained," the source said.
A representative of the mosque told Interfax that Safin was released following questioning after giving a written promise not to leave Kazan.
Some materials related to the criminal case and photos from the search of the mosque have been posted on the mosque's page on a social networking site.
According to earlier reports, the administration of the al-Ihlas mosque disagrees with the policies of the Spiritual Directorate of Tatarstan Muslims, which promotes the ideas of traditional, tolerant Islam, does not recognize its charter, and refused to undergo re-registration in 2011.
In 2009, Safin was given a suspended sentence of two years in prison for organizing the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
According to the Spiritual Directorate of Tatarstan Muslims, there are now some 1,300 mosques in Tatarstan, of which 70% have already re-registered.