Reuters is reporting that the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has declared his support for the demonstrators in Syria. The report begins:
AMMAN — The leader of Syria’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood declared his support for pro-democracy protesters challenging President Bashar al-Assad and said a harsh crackdown had further fueled the unrest. In an interview with Reuters, Mohammad Riad Shaqfa said from exile in Saudi Arabia the Brotherhood was not behind the weeks of protests in Syria but supported the demands of demonstrators for greater freedom. Shaqfa’s movement was crushed in Syria after challenging Assad’s father Hafez al-Assad, who put down an armed Brotherhood uprising in Hama in 1982, kiling thousands. Membership remains punishable by death under a 1980 law. ‘We are with the demands of the people. We do not have an organization in Syria because of the 1980 law, but we do have a large popular presence,’ said Shaqfa, whose movement ended an 18-month truce with Assad last year.
Read the rest here.
The 2009 decision by the Syrian Brotherhood to suspend its activities against the government was discussed in an earlier post.
In 1982 Hafez Assad, the father of the current Syrian President, launched massive military action against an uprising by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Hama. As a result of this action, large parts of the city were destroyed resulting in an estimated 20,000 deaths. Numerous Syrian Muslim Brothers fled the country and joined the global jihadist network and, until recently, there was no public evidence that the the remaining elements of Syrian Brotherhood leadership in exile were interacting with the global Muslim Brotherhood. This appeared to have been changing in the wake of the 2009 Gaza crisis when a previous post discussed a U.K. Gaza “victory celebration” that featured a list of participants that included Ali Sadruddin Bayanouni, the head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in exile living in London, together with global Brotherhood leaders such as Kemal Al-Helbawy and Rachid Ghannouchi. Another post noted that Bayanouni said in a TV interview that he had met with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi in Doha and that a report by a private forecasting group suggested that Qaradawi was helping to mediate a “rapprochement” between the Syrian Brotherhood and the Syrian regime.
In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
For a comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.
For a comprehensive account of Islamist activities in Syria, go here.