Five Kazakhs Jailed For Membership In Banned Islamic Group

By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

ASTANA -- A court in the Kazakh capital, Astana, has sentenced five men to prison for membership in a banned Islamic group.

The Sary Arqa district court sentenced on February 18 the leader of the Tablighi Jamaat Islamic group to two years in prison.

Khalymbakhi Khalym was found guilty of membership in the group and inciting social discord.

Four other defendants were found guilty of taking part in the activities of the banned group, and sentenced to one year in jail each.

The men went on trial in January.

Tablighi Jamaat is officially banned in Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

Islamic groups have been under increased scrutiny from the Kazakh authorities since a suspected Islamist militant carried out the country's first-ever suicide bombing in the northwestern city of Aqtobe in 2011.