Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani Reuters

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Monday launched a scathing attack on his conservative election rivals, saying their era of "violence and extremism" was over, reports AFP.

"The people of Iran shall once again announce that they don't approve of those who only called for executions and jail throughout the last 38 years," he was quoted as having told a packed stadium in the western city of Hamedan, referring to the Islamic revolution of 1979.

"We've entered this election to tell those practicing violence and extremism that your era is over," he added.

Rouhani, who won the presidential election in 2013, seeks a second term in office in the election on May 19, but has come under fire by his opponents over his failure to revive Iran's stagnant economy.

"Your logic is prohibition and nothing else. Our young people have chosen the path of freedom," he told his opponents on Monday.

Rouhani's government has failed to kick-start the economy despite a nuclear deal with world powers that ended many sanctions imposed on the country.

Rouhani last week criticized the Revolutionary Guards for writing anti-Israel messages on ballistic missiles before testing them.

The missile test in question took place in March of 2016. The words “annihilate Israel” were written on the missiles, and Iranian officials claimed the missile systems being developed were needed “to confront the Zionist entity” and to ensure “its collapse”.

Despite his recent conciliatory messages and despite being touted by the West as a “moderate”, has in the past called Israel “illegitimate” and lamented that the crisis in Syria has made it difficult for Iran to focus on harming Israel.

Rouhani has personally presided over “Death to America” chants during rallies in Iran, even though he claimed that Iranians “respect the American people”.

Under Rouhani's presidency, Iran has set new records in the number of executions, many for political or religious "crimes". He has also done little in the way of freeing reformist political leaders who were jailed after protesting the 2009 election.