Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet country, became embroiled in a five-year civil war shortly after gaining independence from Moscow in 1991. Photo: Flickr

Tajikistan’s state prosecutor said Tuesday that more than 100 people in the impoverished Central Asian state had been arrested for membership of a banned Islamist group, including a state official and university teachers.

State prosecutor Yusuf Rakhmon said at a press conference that those arrested were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization banned in the ex-Soviet country since 2006.

The 113 arrests all took place in the last month, the prosecutor said.

“The detainees include people from different professions. There is an official from one of the northern regions and 20 employees of higher education institutions,” Rakhmon said.

“Regardless of the position and place of work, all those involved in extremism will be detained and held accountable.”

Rakhmon, who is not related to long-serving Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, said the Muslim Brotherhood is “banned in a number of other countries for its extremist activities” and aims to topple governments.

The Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed in Egypt. The country’s Muslim Brotherhood government, strongly supported by Turkey, was violently overthrown in 2013.

The arrests came as Tajikistan, a country of 9 million, is set to hold parliamentary elections in March that will be the first not to feature a faith-based party.

Authorities banned the moderate Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) in 2015 and designated it a terrorist group, effectively ending domestic opposition to President Rakhmon.

A number of top-ranking members of the IRPT were jailed.

Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet country, became embroiled in a five-year civil war shortly after gaining independence from Moscow in 1991.

The conflict pitted pro-government forces loyal to Rakhmon against a mixture of Islamist, democratic and regional groupings before a peace deal was signed in 1997.

– AFP

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