Saudi Grand Mufti denounces ‘sinful’ Arab unrest

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Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, left, seen with King Abdullah, condemned the peaceful protests in Egypt. Photo - AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has blamed sinfulness for the pro-democracy chaos that has swept the Middle East, toppling four heads of state during the last 16 months.

“The schism, instability, the malfunctioning of security and the breakdown of unity that Islamic countries are facing these days is a result of the sins of the public and their transgressions,” Saudi newspaper Al Watan quoted Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh as saying.

He accused ‘troublemakers’ of wearing mask of “democracy and equality” for actions leading to injustice and instability within the Ummah (Muslim nation).

Public uprisings erupted last year have forced out autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Unrest still prevails in Syria and Bahrain.

Ties between Riyadh and Cairo worsened after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, a close Saudi ally. Many Gulf governments are also displeased with the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which calls for a pan-Islamic governance.

An Egyptian delegation visited Saudi King Abdullah on Friday amid a diplomatic spat caused by protests at the Saudi embassy in Cairo. Riyadh recalled its ambassador in protest but the Saudi king sent back the envoy to Cairo on Saturday.

Recently, the international media quoted the grand mufti as saying that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be demolished, angering Christian religious groups in Europe. The comments could not be verified by Saudi officials.

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