One of the leading figures of Syria’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has returned home after 20 years in exile, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
Abu Fateh Baynouni, 61, arrived in Aleppo last week and declared his willingness to “let bygones be bygones with the Baath regime.”
Baynouni, who is the brother of the brotherhood’s secretary-general, Ali Sadr Dinn Baynouni, was exiled in 1982 after taking part in the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama.
Authorities claimed he was a spiritual co-leader of the movement that called for a holy war against the regime on Feb. 2, 1982.
Baynouni said his decision to return came after the brotherhood expressed “harmony” with Syrian President Bashar Assad in July 2000, said the paper.
Encouraged by Assad’s decision to release 600 political prisoners last summer, along with the president’s willingness to allow room for more political freedoms, Baynouni petitioned Syrian authorities for clemency.
President Assad “holds no responsibility for the mistakes of the past, and he seems sincerely dedicated to reform,” said Baynouni.
Upon his return, Baynouni received a heroic welcome from sympathizers of the outlawed organization.
His civil rights were restored, and he was issued with a new passport. “Even those members of the regime who left nothing but harsh memories for Syria,” were also warm in their welcome, he told the paper.
However, Baynouni acknowledged brotherhood members were divided over his brother’s recent alliance with the Syrian Communist Party.
Pointing out that according to traditional brotherhood principle, “the Communists are atheists,” Bayouni said his brother’s position ran contrary to the party’s ideology.
Regarding a declaration made by his brother earlier this month on the arrest of Communist Party leader Riad Turk, Bayouni said “nothing unites him with Turk except hating the regime.”
Earlier last month, Turk and the brotherhood’s secretary-general took part in a televised debate with communist journalist Nizar Nayyouf.
Both men criticized the regime, and urged “a coalition between intellectuals, communists, and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Turk was arrested following the debate – Albawaba.com