Beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that the toppling of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was a good thing for Egypt and sends a clear message to those who would use religion for political gain: Don't try.
"The Muslim Brotherhood and those who are like them take advantage of religion and use it as a mask," Mr. Assad said, as The Times of Israel reported. "They consider that when you don't stand with them politically, then you are not standing with God."
Mr. Assad has faced down calls to leave office for more than two years, leaving Syria in a constant state of civil unrest. He blames much of the rebel violence on the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of the same group that fueled Mr. Morsi's rise to power and that still supports his reinstatement.
Mr. Assad's statements mark the second time in recent days he publicly has praised the coup against Mr. Morsi. Last Thursday, he applauded Egypt's overthrow as a certain end to "political Islam," The Times of Israel reported.
Mr. Assad has a long-running family feud with the Brotherhood. His father, the late President Hafez Assad, put the halt to a 1982 uprising in the city of Hama that was being driven by Muslim Brotherhood members.
Also on Thursday, Mr. Assad said: "Arab identity is back in the right track. It is returning after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and after these political trends that use religions for their narrow interests have been revealed," The Times of Israel said.
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