Iranian President Rouhani: Israel the only beneficiary of Islamic disunity

Over 300 Muslim scholars are in attendance at the 29th Islamic Unity Conference in Iran's capital city.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (photo credit: HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY WEBSITE / AFP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
World powers are trying to depict Islam as a religion of violence, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.
Islamic extremist groups are creating a militant picture of Islam that is benefiting only Israel and the Zionist movement, he added, speaking at the opening of the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran.
He emphasized the importance of bringing an end to extremism from terrorist groups such as Islamic State that have committed attacks against Muslims in the name of Islam.
“It is our greatest duty today to correct the image of Islam in world public opinion,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast by state television.
“Did we ever think that, instead of enemies, an albeit small group from within the Islamic world using the language of Islam, would present it as the religion of killing, violence, whips, extortion and injustice?” Rouhani said.
Rouhani said Islamic principles opposed violence, and the extremism of groups such as Islamic State stemmed from “narrow-mindedness and a lack of moderation.”
Rouhani criticized Muslim countries for “being silent in the face of all the killing and bloodshed” in Syria, Iraq and Yemen – conflicts in which Iran plays a role.
Iran supports the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has close ties with neighboring Iraq, and condemns the Islamic State group that fights both governments.
The Islamic Republic is also an ally of the Houthi movement that seized control of most of Yemen last year and has fought a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia for nine months.
The conference‘s theme is “The Muslim World’s Current Crises,” which Rouhani defined as the lack of unity within Islam.
The Iranian president called on the Islamic scholars to allow for mutual respect.
“Muslims have no option but to become more united,” in order to thwart the efforts to portray Islam as a violent religion, he said.
Those present must work together to penetrate the mindset of the Muslim community so a dialogue can begin and allow for change, Rouhani added.
More than 300 Muslim scholars from over 70 countries including cabinet ministers of Islamic countries, heads of universities, and representatives of scientific and cultural communities are attending the three-day conference.