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Syria: Muslim Brotherhood chief urges Assad to learn from Egypt and Tunisia

ultimo aggiornamento: 14 febbraio, ore 17:47

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London, 14 Feb. (AKI) - The leader of Syria's banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group has urged the country's president Bashar al-Assad to take note of the recent popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt which toppled their authoritarian presidents after decades in power.

"The government should come to its senses and learn from the Egyptian and Tunisian experiences," Muhammad Ryadh al-Shafqa, told Adnkronos International (AKI) in an interview.

"The regime's intransigence has led to the opposition stepping up its activities," al-Shafqa added.

During the Israel's deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is linked to the coastal strip's ruling Islamist Palestinian group Hamas, called for a truce with the Syrian government.

"All our attempts at dialogue were ignored. But we remain ready to respond to any concrete initiative which shows a real desire to act in the interests of the country and its citizens," said al-Shafqa.

Hamas' main political leader, Khaled Maashal, has lived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, since 2001.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is also outlawed in Egypt had been part of "the triumph of the popular will" in the key North African country, al-Shafqa said.

He was referring to the resignation of Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak last week after 18 days of mass protests against his almost-30-year rule. The Muslim Brotherhood formed part of the anti-government forces protesting widespread poverty, corruption and repression under Mubarak.

The pro-democracy protests were inspired by the so-called 'Jasmine' revolution in Tunisia, which ousted its president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on 14 January after 23 years in power

"Islamic organisations, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, provide an element of stability and harmony in all the countries in which they are present," al-Shafqa said.

"Trying to make out they are intimidatory is just a lie put about by dictators to help them stay in power."

Al-Assad was appointed leader of the Baath-Party and the army after his father, Syria's former president Hafez al-Assad died in 2000. He was confirmed as president in an unopposed referendum in 2001. He has been criticised for his disregard for human rights, his handing of the economy , for alleged corruption and sponsorship of terrorism.

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