Tatarstan Supreme Court upholds sentence of teacher found with books of banned Islamic group

KAZAN, Russia — The Supreme Court of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan has dismissed an appeal by Nakia Sharifullina, a renowned teacher and founder of Islamic schools for girls, who was sentenced to a two-year suspended prison sentence in August after was convicted of organizing the activities of a banned Islamic group.

Sharifullina’s lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, said RFE/RL that the court issued its decision on the appeal on December 17.

Sharifullina was charged in March 2020 after police found in her possession several books by the founder of the Nurcular movement, Islamic scholar Said Nursi. She denied all charges, insisting she did not use the books in her classes.

The teacher was placed under house arrest for eight months at the time, then released on condition that she not leave town.

Since 2013, several alleged Nurcular members have been arrested across Russia.

Last month, a famous Islamic scholar from Tatarstan, Gabdrakhman Naumov, was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison after a court found him guilty of founding and leading the branch of Nurcular in the republic, which he and his supporters denied it.

Nurcular was founded in Turkey by Nursi, who died in 1960.

The Nurcular movement, which has millions of followers worldwide, including in Turkey, has been banned in Russia since 2008.

Russian authorities have said that the group promotes the creation of an Islamic state that encompasses all Turkic-speaking regions and countries in the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia and the Turkic-speaking Russian regions of the North Caucasus and the Volga.

Rose D. Jones