Sons of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have failed to persuade prominent Saudi clerics to issue religious rulings against a revolt that is threatening to bring down the veteran leader, Al Arabiya television said on Monday.
The Saudi-owned channel said on its website that Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam had contacted one cleric, Salman al-Awda, and Saadi Gaddafi had reached out to a second, Ayedh al-Garni, but both rejected their calls.
“You are killing the Libyan people. Turn to God because you are wronging them. Protect Libyan blood, you are killing old people and children. Fear God,” Garni said he told Saadi.
Garni made the remarks on air on Sunday, the website said, adding Awda gave the same message to Saif al-Islam.
Awda has a weekly television show on Saudi-owned pan-Arab channel MBC1 and has been praised by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before as a religious scholar he felt did not toe the government line. Garni gave lectures in Libya last year.
Gaddafi’s forces have been trying for days to push back a revolt that has won over large parts of the military and ended his control over eastern Libya. Gaddafi has accused followers of al Qaeda of staging the protests in the east, where Islamists have clashed with government forces in the past.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the ruling al-Saud family see the clerical establishment, who have wide powers in society, as the leading authority in mainstream Sunni Islam.
The world’s top oil exporter is nervous that protests sweeping the region, which have included its neighbours Bahrain, Oman and Yemen, could ignite dissent on its own territory.
Activists have set up Facebook pages calling for protests on March 11 and 20 in Saudi Arabia. These have attracted over 17,000 supporters combined. Last week King Abdullah, a close U.S. ally, ordered wage rises for Saudi citizens along with other benefits in an apparent bid to insulate the kingdom from the wave of protests.
Gaddafi has long been an unpopular figure in Saudi Arabia, which once accused him of plotting to assassinate the king.
Clerics close to the government have said it is not the place of religious scholars to back protests or otherwise. But others have said Gaddafi is an illegitimate ruler and denounced him as an apostate.