Saudis Ban "Un-Islamic" Protests

Saudi Arabia has its own way of heading off protests overtaking much of the Middle East: Appealing to commitment to the Islamic ideal of unity.

Tags: Saudi Arabia
Hillel Fendel , | updated: 7:13 PM

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has its own way of heading off the protests overtaking much of the Middle East: Appealing to the citizens' commitment to the Islamic ideal of unity.

The Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat website reported today that the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia termed calls for demonstrations "un-Islamic." The statement was issued on Sunday, a day after the Saudi Interior Ministry issued a similar statement.

Elements in the Saudi government threatened to use force to halt protests, after a rare demonstration took place in the capital Riyadh last week.

The statement issued by the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls for unity in the national ranks, saying that this is one of the most important fundamentals of Islam.

The news outlet reported that the senior scholars "thank Allah for the united word of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as described in the Holy Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) under the wise leadership that
has the right legitimacy. Through its progress and advancement, the Kingdom has managed to preserve the Islamic identity, and now [has its own] legitimate means to defend it... The kingdom will never allow - Allah willing - any incoming
thoughts, neither from the West nor from the East, to distort this identity or to wreak havoc among the community."

The council added, "Consequently, the Council of Senior Scholars as it senses the bliss of the unanimity of opinion, in the light of the Holy Quran, the Teachings of the Prophet and under the wise leadership, calls on all to spare no effort to strengthen the unity and warns against any thing that may cause sedition."

"Since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on the Holy Quran," the statement continues, "[as well as] Sunnah, pledge of allegiance, unity and obedience, the reform and advice can't be carried out by demonstrations and means and methods that stir discord and divide the group... The scholars of this country have agreed on prohibiting such acts and have warned against them."

The council said it is important that the legal, control and executive authorities should carry out their duties as mandated by the State regulations and directives of the leadership and punish any negligent person.

Analysts say that the ruling Al-Saud family enjoys relatively widespread support in the mostly Sunni Moslem country. However, the government is keeping a close eye on the developments in the neighboring islands of Bahrain, where government forces have clashed sharply with protestors.