Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to launch Islamist party
Published Friday, July 20, 2012
Syria's hardline Muslim Brotherhood, a key opponent of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, announced plans on Friday to launch an Islamist political party.
"The decision has been taken to create an Islamic party," the head of the Brotherhood's political wing, Ali Beyanouni, told journalists after the group completed a four-day conference in Istanbul.
"We are ready for the post-Assad era, we have plans for the economy, the courts, politics," said Mulhem al-Droubi, the Brotherhood's spokesman.
The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928 and has branches and affiliates around the world.
But the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has no direct links to Egypt's movement, and is known to be more radical.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was banned in 1963, and many of its members fled Syria following a a failed insurgency in the 1980s the failed to topple then-President Hafez al-Assad.
An uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has allowed thousands to return to the country, taking part in an insurgency.
The Turkish-based Muslim Brotherhood is also said to be the major force in the Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC).
The group has been at the center of disputes with secular, nationalist and liberal opposition circles that fear the Islamists are seeking to hijack the revolt, and implement a radical agenda.
The Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other Islamist and Jihadist armed groups, are said to be funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The threat of the Muslim Brotherhood rising to power in Syria has created anxiety among the country's minorities, who fear persecution if the Gulf-backed Islamists come to power.
Spokesman al-Droubi acknowledged the group's current reach in Syria was limited, even among Sunni Muslims.
"My opinion is that in case of free elections the Muslim Brothers wouldn't have more than 25 percent of the votes," he said.
Despite dominating the SNC, many internal Syrian opposition groups are wary of the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda and links to Gulf autocracies.