TEHRAN (AFP) - Irans supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for Sunni and Shia countries to close ranks against the cancerous tumour of Israel, state television reported on Thursday. Islamic governments must defend the unity and rights of Muslims, particularly against the cancerous tumour of Israel and those who support it, he said in a speech to senior Iranian officials on the anniversary of Prophet Mohammeds birthday. Unfortunately, the unity of the Islamic world is affected by American and British plots designed to sow division between Sunnis and Shias, said Khamenei, quoted on state television. Shia Muslims represent around 10 percent of the worlds Islamic population, and the majority of them live in Iran and Iraq. Khamenei said last month that the destruction of the Islamic republics arch-foe Israel was imminent and called for continued resistance against the Jewish state. Iran, which does not recognise Israel, supports militant groups in the Middle East which call for its destruction, such as the Palestinian Sunni movement Hamas and Lebanons Shia group Hezbollah. Hardline President Mah-moud Ahmadinejad has also repeatedly called Israel a cancerous tumour that was doomed to disappear. Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have freed 14 people arrested at award-winning filmmaker Jafar Panahis home but the pro-opposition director remains detained, an opposition website said on Thursday. Kaleme.com said Panahis wife and their daughter were among the 14 released late on Wednesday, adding that Panahi and two other people, Mohammad Rassoulof and Mehdi Pourmoussa, were still being held. According to the website, at least six human rights activists, including womens rights militant Mahboubeh Karami, were among the group of 17 people arrested overnight on Monday. Apart from Panahi, the other five were identified as Hessam Firouzi, Behzad Mehrani, Navid Khanjani, Mansour Taghipour and Aboufazl Abedini. The filmmaker, a vocal backer of the opposition movement, was arrested along with his wife, daughter and their guests when security forces raided his home in Tehran. Media reports said Panahi was arrested for making a film about the unrest which rocked the Islamic republic after the June 12 disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panahi was producing an anti-regime film with his colleagues but the security apparatus vigilantly discovered their moves and they were arrested, said leading conservative news website Tabnak. Opposition website Rahesabz echoed the report and said: Intelligence officials said Panahi and a movie crew were making an unauthorised film about the incidents linked with the election at his home. But his son, Panah Panahi, has denied the reports. And on Tuesday, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said Panahi was not arrested for political reasons or because he is an artist. He was accused of some crimes and arrested with another person following an order by a judge. Panahi, 49, is known for his gritty, socially critical movies such as the Circle, which bagged the 2000 Venice Golden Lion award, Crimson Gold, and Offside, winner of the 2006 Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival. In February, the authorities banned Panahi