A billboard in Manama advertises a new website, created for residents to register to vote in Bahrain's parliamentary elections. Image Credit: Reuters

Manama: Bahrain's prime minister and crown prince have offered their full support to the king, who on Saturday called for reforms of the religious sector and said only competent and moderate preachers should deliver sermons.

"The government will ensure that religious pulpits are used only by those who can promote the values of tolerance and moderation," said Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Prime Minister.

"They will not be available to those who want to exploit them to achieve the interests of a few and do not serve national interests or unity or other objectives of the nation," the premier said in a message to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa.

In his cable to the king, Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa said that "regaining the pulpits to avoid them being hijacked by incompetent politicians or preachers who have moved away from the nation's interests and asserting the nation's mandate is the starting point in our efforts to achieve a sound religious orientation".

In his speech on Saturday, King Hamad urged the government "to devote more attention to our religious forums and to ensure that they are used only by those who are adequately qualified, are good citizens, have a fine character, are committed to the group, are moderate and reject violence".

"Men of thought, science, culture, arts and literature as well as civil society organisations in our country have to address social issues that have religious dimensions. This will offer our young people prospects for a sound understanding, narrow the gap between the Islamic sects, and build bridges between the Islamic civilisation and other civilisations," he said.

The king's speech came a day after the National Security Agency (NSA) said that it had dismantled a terrorist network that was plotting against Bahrain's security and stability.

Last month, Bahrain said that it was adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone implicated in acts of violence or sabotage and warned all organisations and groups to get themselves in order before the end of Ramadan.

In his speech, King Hamad said that those who continued to break the law would be duly confronted, as they seemed to have mistaken the several pardons they had received for "evidence that they are above the law".