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Muslims worldwide must unite, rise above sects: Iranian prez

February 16, 2018 23:41 IST

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday called for unity among the global Muslim community and asserted if they had been united, the United States would not have dared to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Image: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the religious leaders and scholars at an event in Hyderabad. Photograph: PTI Photo

Rouhani, who is on a three-day visit to India, said people who think Islam is a religion of "violence and terrorism" are wrong in their assessment.

He was addressing a Muslim congregation at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, after offering Friday prayers.


"If Muslims of the world were united, these countries would not have dared to torture Muslims of Palestine every day," he said, without naming any country.

"Had Muslims been united, the USA would not have dared to announce Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," the Iranian leader said.

In early December, US President Donald Trump announced he would break with decades of American policy and move his embassy to Jerusalem. The move stirred global condemnation and protests across the Palestinian territories and the Arab world.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his speech, Rouhani also referred to some of the shooting incidents in educational institutions in the USA, resulting in deaths of people.

The latest one took place on February 14 in a Florida high school, where an expelled former student, armed with a powerful assault rifle, unleashed a hail of gunfire, killing 17 people and injuring 15 others.

"Some people alleged that Islam is a religion of violence and terrorism. But they are wrong in their assessment of Islam. On the contrary violence is there in western societies. We see people killing other people in American colleges and schools," he added.

Image: Rouhani being welcomed by Maulana Hafiz Osman Imam of Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Photograph: PTI Photo

The Iranian leader said Muslims have many sects but they should tolerate each other and respect other religions too.

"Though there are many sects such as Shia and Sunni, Muslims should tolerate each other and respect all Muslims and other religions also," he said.

According to him, Muslims should rise above sectarian differences and accept all sects of the community as one.

Meanwhile, Iran has expressed willingness to share its vast oil and natural gas resources with India and simplify visa norms to strengthen bilateral ties. 

Rouhani said the current century belongs to Asia where New Delhi and Tehran have an important role to play.

The Chabahar port in the Gulf country will open up the transit route for India to Iran and Afghanistan (bypassing Pakistan), Central Asian countries and Europe, he said.

Under an agreement, India is to invest USD 85 million for equipping the Chabahar port in southeastern Iran.

"Iran has abundant oil and natural gas resources and is willing to share them with India for its progress and prosperity of (its) people," he said.+

Image: Rouhani visits the Qutb Shahi tomb at Ibrahim Bagh.  Photograph: PTI Photo

The president said Iran is hopeful India will reciprocate by simplifying visa rules to enhance people-to-people contact.

"Iran is willing to further simplify visa procedure (for Indians) and I am hopeful the Indian government, too, will look into it for better relations between the people of India and Iran."

Earlier in the day, he visited the historic Qutub Shahi tombs complex in Hyderabad,. Built in the Iranian architecture style, these monuments are popularly known as seven tombs.

Telangana government officials and Aga Khan Trust for Culture office-bearers briefed the leader on the architecture and significance of the over 400-year- old monuments.

Rouhani began his three-day India visit from Hyderabad where he arrived on Thursday.

This was his second visit to Hyderabad and the first after assuming charge as the president of Iran in 2013.

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