Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dec. 1, 2015. (AP)
Egypt's Al-Azhar, the world's highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, urged on Monday "non-interference in Saudi Arabia's domestic affairs," slamming criticism of the Sunni kingdom's recent mass execution of 47 men on terrorism charges.
Al-Azhar's Muslim Council of Elders said in a statement that it supports the Gulf country "in its fight to combat terrorism, extremism and to quell sectarian strife and ensure security, stability and peace in the region."
Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it had executed prominent Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr and 46 others including dozens of Al-Qaeda members. The executed included an Egyptian and a Chadian.
The council expressed its "strong condemnation" of attacks on Saudi Arabia's embassy and consulate in Iran following Saturday's announcement of the executions. It also slammed what it described as "provocative statements against the kingdom" amid a barrage of international denunciation of the Saudi action.
The UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply dismayed" with the executions while France and Germany also condemned the killings.
Egypt has been battling an Islamist insurgency that has spiked since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.