February 5, 2011 / 10:28 AM / 10 years ago

Saudi top cleric blasts Arab, Egypt protests-paper

RIYADH, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s top Islamic scholar condemned anti-government protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere as a plot by enemies of Islam to spread instability, Saudi newspapers said on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians marched peacefully in Cairo on Friday to demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, but no end to the confrontation was in sight as the unrest entered its 12th day.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has said it is worried that the unrest might lead to instability in Egypt, its main Arab ally. King Abdullah called Mubarak to express his support, Saudi state media said on Jan. 29.

The protests in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries are plots by enemies of Islam to break up Arab Muslim nations, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh, who is close to Saudi government thinking, was quoted as saying.

“This chaos comes from enemies of Islam and those who follow them,” the daily Asharq al-Awsat quoted him as saying, adding that demonstrations led to bloodshed and stealing.

Both Saudi Arabia, an Islamic kingdom ruled by the Al Saud family in alliance with clerics following an austere version of Sunni Islam, and Egypt are key Arab allies of the United States. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing, editing by Tim Pearce)

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