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Saudi grand mufti slams protests as anti-Islamic

29 November, 2012

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's grand mufti has slammed popular protests across the region as anti-Islamic, saying they only serve to spread chaos, local media reported on Wednesday.

"These protests are not linked in any way to Islam, which promotes dialogue," Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh was quoted as saying by Al-Eqtisadiah daily. Protests "are dangerous and lead to chaos," he said, adding that they were used by "enemies to spread chaos the way they did in some Muslim countries."

The grand mufti said that the events occurring in the Arab and Muslim world are a result of the "lack of religion and the disobedience of leaders or the interference by some foreign parties." The Arab world has been rocked by massive demonstrations for nearly two years leading to the toppling of four autocrats in the region.

Demonstrations are banned in Saudi Arabia, which has remained relatively untouched by the Arab Spring uprisings. On Tuesday, police dispersed dozens of protesters gathered in Riyadh calling for the release or immediate trial of imprisoned racial relatives.

Riyadh warned in October it would deal "firmly" with demonstrations. Rights watchdog Amnesty International slammed the warning and urged the authorities to "withdraw their threat." The Shia minority who claim they are marginalised in the kingdom's Eastern Province also sometimes stage protests and clash with police forces.

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