Tajik court imprisons well-known heart surgeon for contact with Salafis
The court found Salomov guilty under Article 307, part 3 ("participation in the activities of political parties, non-government or religious associations or other organisations against which the valid judicial decision liquidates or bans their activities because of extremist activities") of the Criminal Code of the Republic.
Moreover, each of the two friends of the doctor, Ilkhom Gafforov and Saydullo Mirzoyev, will serve five years in a strict regime prison.
"The investigators have no irrefutable evidence of his guilt, as well as no reasons for his arrest," Salomov's lawyer Bakhtiyor Vohidov told Ozodi Radio (Tajik service of Radio Liberty). The lawyer says that his client does not admit his guilt and claims that he was never a member of any religious organisation. He added that the law enforcement authorities suspect Abdumalik Salomov of having links with members of "Salafia" because of his participation in the so-called "mahfili palav" (meetings with plov [traditional rice dish in Central Asia - note by Fergana] treats), which the Soghdian Salafis allegedly organised.
After the arrest of the cardiac surgeon, his family appealed to President Emomali Rahmon asking him to promote an objective trial of his case.
Zarrinakhon Salomova, the wife of the doctor, reports that the law enforcers detained Abdumalik in the morning of 19 August at his home in Khujand (the administrative centre of the Soghd region of Tajikistan). "His six friends and classmates who had participated in the "mahfili palav" got arrested too. Soon four of the detainees were released. In respect for the three, including Abdumalik, criminal proceedings continue," she told the Ozodi Radio.
Abdumalik Salomov is 41 years old, graduated Tajik Medical University. He raises four children. The eldest daughter is a university student, and the rest are schoolchildren.
For many years he worked at the Moscow Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery named after Bakulev and the Central Military Clinical Hospital named after the Vishnevsky of the Ministry of Defence of Russia. In Moscow, Salomov defended his scientific degree thesis. He has lived in Moscow for ten years.
In 2015, the Cardiovascular Surgery Centre in Khujand invited him to his homeland - to work with them. According to the spouse, he agreed, since "he always dreamed of serving his country and his people."
"There were many cases when he was in the hospital for days. During holidays he provided financial assistance to needy citizens. Read namaz [prayer] at home. He had no beard," Zarrinakhon told Asia Plus news agency.
Abdumalik's colleagues also feel confused about his detention. They say that Salomov brought more than 100 patients with severe heart diseases back to life. "Salomov is a highly qualified specialist, an excellent cardiac surgeon. I know that he committed a small Hajj, but that he communicated with the Salafis - it is hard to believe," said deputy head doctor Mubinjon Inoyatov.
"Salafia", in whose adherence the Tajik authorities accuse the cardiac surgeon, is a fundamentalist Sunni orientation in Islam, whose followers advocate to orient themselves toward the way of life and faith of the early Muslim community and oppose the reform and introduction of any innovations into Islam. The absolute majority of Salafis live in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
In January 2009, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan outlawed "Salafia". The first verdict convicting the Salafis in the republic emerged in 2010. And in December 2014 the movement ranked among extremist organisations. According to intelligence agencies, the number of followers of "Salafia" in Tajikistan is several thousand people. In November 2015, the Ulem (Spiritual) Council of the Islamic Centre of Tajikistan issued a fatwa in which it called on the Muslims of the country to "lead an uncompromising struggle" with the followers of the current "Salafia".