Rouhani says Friday’s Iran election ‘historical decision’
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Rouhani says Friday’s Iran election ‘historical decision’

President says Tehran wants 'constructive communication' with the world, tells voters to choose between peace and tensions

Iranian president and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani attends a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on May 13, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
Iranian president and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani attends a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on May 13, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

TEHRAN — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that Friday’s presidential election will place the country at a critical juncture, and its people must choose between peace or tension.

Speaking Saturday to tens of thousands of his supporters at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, his biggest campaign rally thus far, Rouhani said, “We are at the edge of a great historical decision. Our nation will announce if it continues on the path of peacefulness or if it wants to choose tension.”

“We should not let Iran become isolated again,” added Rouhani, “We want constructive communication with the world.”

The May 19 vote is seen largely as a referendum on Rouhani’s outreach to the rest of the world following the country’s landmark 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.

Though he is leading in official polls, Rouhani faces a tough fight for re-election against conservative rivals who accuse him of failing to boost the struggling economy.

Earlier on Saturday, a leading figure of Iran’s Sunni minority endorsed the incumbent leader despite the government’s “shortcomings.”

Sunnis make up around five to 10 percent of Iran’s 80 million population, which is overwhelmingly from the Shiite sect of Islam.

A supporter of Iranian President and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani holds up his portrait during a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on May 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)
A supporter of Iranian President and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani holds up his portrait during a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on May 13, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Religious leader Molavi Abdol Hamid said “the atmosphere for Sunnis has been a little more relaxed” since Rouhani took power in 2013, and that most would support him in Friday’s election.

Abdol Hamid repeated calls for greater Sunni representation in local and national government, and more action on discrimination.

“The Sunni community believes that this government, despite its problems and weaknesses, has had more strong points, and we hope if the current government takes office again, it will do more to resolve those problems and shortcomings,” he said in comments carried by his website.

He was speaking in Sistan Baluchistan province, a Sunni-majority region in southeastern Iran bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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