JEDDAH - Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the country, issued a condemnation of demonstrations that appeared to blame Iran for unrest among Shia Muslims in Gulf Arab states.

“The Arab Gulf is being targeted by attacks seeking to discredit religion and eliminate the material interests and wealth it holds,” Al-Watan newspaper quoted Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh as saying in his Friday sermon in Riyadh.

Al-Sheikh warned people not to follow “enemies” who called on them to protest, saying they aimed to divide the people of the region. Unrest has erupted among majority Shias in Bahrain and minority Shias in Eastern Saudi Arabia in the last two years.

Tension has also run high over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, which Gulf Arab rulers fear could help Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

Al-Watan said al-Sheikh also lashed out at what he called “satellite channels that broadcast evil” and urged owners to use them to promote security and obey their country’s rulers.