September 17, 2015 / 12:30 AM / 4 years ago

Republican Santorum says radical Iran, Iraq Muslims in 'death cult'

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (L) shakes the hand and pats the back of Louisiana Governor and fellow candidate Bobby Jindal at the end of a debate between the lowest polling candidates held before the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, United States, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said on Wednesday that radical Shi’ite Muslims in Iran and Iraq believe in an “apocalyptic version” of Islam that he called a “death cult.”

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania whose popularity among Republicans hovers in the low single digits, made the comments during a televised debate while assailing the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Santorum said more than two-thirds of Iranian and Iraqi Shi’ite Muslims “believe that the end of the world is going to come within their lifetime” because “their regime preaches it.”

“They believe in bringing about the end of times, that’s their theological goal, and we are in the process of giving them a nuclear weapon to do just that,” Santorum said.

“Yes, they’re radical Islamists, that’s true. But they’re a particular version of it, which is an apocalyptic version, which is a death cult,” he said.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Howard Goller

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