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Syria's exiled Islamists want to go home

Exiled Muslim Brotherhood offers to abandon all its political activities in exchange for being allowed back into the country

AFP, Sunday 16 Jan 2011

Syria's banned Muslim Brotherhood in exile has offered to halt its political activities in exchange for their return home, a Qatari newspaper reported on Sunday.

The appeal follows the toppling of Tunisia's strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt.

"If we are allowed to go back to Syria, we will devote ourselves to preaching and religious activities only," the Brotherhood's secretary general Mohammed Riad al-Shaqfa told Al-Sharq daily.

Shaqfa appealed to Damascus to "allow us to work in our ... towns only and no more," the Arabic-language daily quoted him as saying, and said the Brotherhood was also willing to give up its name.

"We are not after power," added the Islamist leader. "We are asking for freedom, justice and equality. If (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad does this, then we are with him."

Shaqfa called for the government to abolish emergency Law 49, laying down the death penalty for membership of the Brotherhood, to reveal the fate of the missing, secure the return of political exiles and to free political detainees.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Syria since unprecedented bloody clashes in the early 1980s.

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