TEHRAN, Dec 27, (AFP): Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday said that Muslim countries should strive to improve the world’s opinion of Islam. “We must remove Islam’s negative image from today’s cyber and real space,” he said in Tehran at an international conference on “The Islamic World’s Current Crisis”. Most “violence, terror and massacres, unfortunately, take place in the Islamic world,” he said. “I invite all Islamic countries in this region and beyond — even those who until today have bombed and launched missiles on their neighbours — for all of us to stop this and choose the right path,” he said. He did not give any country names. Shiite Iran supports Yemen’s Houthi rebels, while its Sunni-ruled regional rival Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that has been bombing them in support of the loyalists since March. “How many bombs and missiles have you purchased from America this year?” he asked. “If you had distributed the money for those bombs and missiles among poor Muslims, nobody would be going to bed hungry.”
Meanwhile, more than 12,000 candidates have signed up for Iranian parliamentary elections due in February, the most since the Islamic revolution in 1979, official media said Saturday. The number of people who registered to stand before a Friday deadline was up nearly 100 percent compared with the previous legislative polls in 2012, the interior ministry said. At the close of registration, the number of candidates stood at “12,123, of whom 1,434 were women,” state news agency IRNA quoted the interior ministry as saying.