29 December, 2015
Muslims must work to improve the world's opinion of Islam, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday.
Rouhani made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran. He said Muslims "must remove Islam's negative image from today's cyber and real space."
The comments were made about conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen that divide Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims. Rouhani said Muslims are "being silent in the face of all the killings and bloodshed" in those countries.
Rouhani also criticized nations that bought American weapons and fired them at fellow Muslims.
The conference's speech was carried on Iranian state television.
During Rouhani's speech, he denied that his country wants to form a "Shi'ite crescent" in the Mideast. Such a Shi'ite region would dominate the Middle East from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq.
Tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites -– mostly between Saudi Arabia and Iraq -- have divided the Islamic community in the Middle East for years. Rouhani's most recent comments call for Muslims to unite and smooth over differences.
"There is neither a Shi'ite nor a Sunni crescent. We have an Islamic moon," the Iranian president said. "We, Muslims, are in a world where we must be united."
The staff at VOA news wrote this story for VOAnews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
crescent – n. a shape that is curved, wide at its center, and pointed at its two ends like a crescent moon
dominate -- v. to control or rule