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Imams from Novosibirsk turn to ECHR

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».

Ilkhom Merazhov and Kamil Odilov have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

On January 14th, two imams from Novosibirsk, Ilkhom Merzhov and Kamil Odilov, turned to the European Court of Human Rights to appeal their sentence received in 2013.

In their appeal Merzhov and Odilov indicated that their rights, guaranteed by the European Convention For the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ,had been violated during the court proceedings brought against them under part 1 of article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code (organizing activities for an extremist organization) on the accusation that they had continued activities for the banned religious association “Nurdzhular”. Specifically, the following rights had been violated:

  • Article 6 – Right to a fair trial;

  • Article 7 – No punishment without law: the imams were convicted for their participation in the activities of a non-existent religious association, and also because of an abundance of non-legal terminology in the sentence;

  • Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life, and also article 1 of protocol 1 (on protection of property): the accused had been subject to searches in which their personal effects had been seized, were not returned to them, and some were destroyed;

  • Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion: the prosecution, sentence, and appellate court decision regarding Merazhov and Odilov restrict these freedoms, and the court decision destroying their books and commentaries on the Koran, which contain quotes from texts holy to Muslims, offends their religious sensibilities;

  • Article 10 – Freedom of expression: Merazhov and Odilov were condemned for reading and discussing the books of Said Nursi, interpreted by the court as organizing activities for “Nurdzhular”;

  • Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association: the court sentence restricts the rights of the imams in regard to freedom of peaceful assembly in a private dwelling;

  • Article 13 – Right to an effective remedy: Merazhov’s application for a judicial review of Nurdzhular’s actual existence was denied by the Russian Supreme Court;

  • Article 14 – Prohibition of discrimination: the imams maintain that they were subject to prosecution under article 282.2 precisely because they are Islamic clerics.

    The imams had been convicted of organizing activities of the religious association “Nurdzhular” while knowing that it is banned as an extremist organization.

    The only reason for prosecuting Merazhov and Odilov is the fact that they studied books written by the Turkish theologian Said Nursi. We consider neither the banning of the books nor the banning of “Nurdzhular” to be legitimate, an organization which in any case does not exist in Russia: separate individuals encounter groundless prosecution for studying Nursi’s books.

    Translated by Matthew McDonald

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