2017-10-19 15:53:00

Prominent Tajik heart surgeon detained on suspicion of links to Salafis media

Dushanbe, October 19, Interfax - The prominent Tajik heart surgeon Abdumalik Salomov has been detained in northern Tajikistan on suspicion of links to the religious Salafia sect, which is banned in Tajikistan, the local media reported.

Salomov, who works at the Sughd Regional Cardiovascular Surgery Center, was detained at the end of September and is currently held at Detention Facility No.2 in Khujand. The investigation is being handled by the regional directorate of the Tajik National Security Committee, the Radio Liberty Tajik Service reported, citing the regional police department.

A source at the regional prosecutor's office confirmed Salomov's arrest. "Abdumalik Salomov is suspected of having links to members of the Salafiyah movement, which is banned in Tajikistan. He has regularly taken part in the so-called 'mahfili palav,' or meetings at which pilaf is served, organized by Salafis in Sughd," the source told media outlets.

It is not clear so far what charges have been brought against the prominent surgeon.

Salomov is a 41-year-old graduate of the Tajik Medical University. He worked for a long time at the Moscow-based Bakoulev Scientific Center for Cardiovascular Surgery and the Vishnevsky Central Military Clinical Hospital. He also got his PhD in Moscow. Salomov was invited to work at the Sughd center in 2017.

Media said Salomov's arrest came as "an absolute surprise" to his colleagues. "Salomov is a highly qualified specialist and a brilliant heart surgeon. I know he performed the Umrah, but it's hard to believe that he communicated with Salafis. He is a very, very gentle person, and patients revere him for his empathy, consideration, and kindness," Salomov's boss, Mubinjon Inoyatov, was quoted as saying.

Colleagues say Salomov has saved the lives of over 100 patients with serious cardiac illnesses.

Secular Muslim countries, particularly the Central Asian states, consider Salafism to be an extremist movement.

The Tajik Supreme Court ruled on January 8, 2009 to ban Salafism in the country. The Supreme Court also ruled on December 8, 2014 to recognize Salafism as an extremist movement.

Tajik authorities have claimed that most Tajik citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq on the side of the Islamic State (banned in Russia) are adherents of Salafia.