President Obama extends Nowruz Holiday greetings to Iranian people
U.S. President Barack Obama sends an important message to those celebrating the holiday of Nowruz (the Persian new year). At a time of great regional change and renewal, the President this year speaks directly to the Iranian people, in particular the Iranian youth, the White House said.
"I believe that there are certain values that are universal -- the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; the ability to speak your mind and choose your leaders", Obama said in a statement.
Obama's statement, issued by the White House, said that the Iranian government has responded to protests "by demonstrating that it cares far more about preserving its own power than respecting the rights of the Iranian people."
"For nearly two years, there has been a campaign of intimidation and abuse. Young and old; men and women; rich and poor -- the Iranian people have been persecuted... The world has watched these unjust actions with alarm."
He said that "this is a season of hope and renewal," and added that "we know that this is also a season of promise across the Middle East and North Africa, even as there are also enormous challenges."
The US leader said that Iran's harsh response to dissidents and protests "do not demonstrate strength, they show fear."
"For it is telling when a government is so afraid of its own citizens that it won't even allow them the freedom to access information or to communicate with each other," he added.
"But the future of Iran will not be shaped by fear. The future of Iran belongs to the young people -- the youth who will determine their own destiny... And though times may seem dark, I want you to know that I am with you."