Saudi Arabia's council of senior clerics on Sunday banned public protests. "The Council of Senior Clerics affirms that demonstrations are forbidden in this country. The correct way in sharia (Islamic law) of realizing common interest is by advising, which is what the Prophet Mohammad established," said the statement by the body headed by the Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh.
"Reform and advice should not be via demonstrations and ways that provoke strife and division, this is what the religious scholars of this country in the past and now have forbidden and warned against," said the statement.
"The Council warns of deviant ideological and party-political connections since this nation is one and will adhere to the ways of the pious ancestors," the statement said. "The kingdom has not and will not allow ideas from the West or the East that take away from this Islamic identity and divide the unity of the whole."
In the past weeks, Saudi police have detained over 20 members of the Shi'ite minority who have staged small protests in the eastern part of the kingdom.
More than 17,000 people backed a call on Facebook to hold two demonstrations in Saudi Arabia this month, the first on Friday.