Known as Nowruz, the Persian New Year falls on the equinox every year, which is March 20 this year. Obama used the day to seek dialogue with the Iranian people to help connect them to the rest of the world.
The AP story states the Iranian government has set up an “electronic curtain” around its people disconnecting them from the rest of the world.
“Increasingly, the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want,” Obama said in the AP article. “Instead, the Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts. It censors the Internet to control what the Iranian people can see and say. The regime monitors computers and cell phones for the sole purpose of protecting its own power.”
Nowruz, symbolizes the coming of spring and a time when Iranians make a new start through traditions dating back millennia. This year, as the pressures grow, few hold out hope that life will improve, according to a Reuters article. The pressure is economically as well as with communication to the rest of the world.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is Iran’s top leader, gave a speech Tuesday that touched on the tensions between the United States and Iran, declaring the U.S. and Israel enemies of the country according to AP. He also stated in a speech on state television reported by Reuters, “This year’s slogan is national production, supporting Iranian labor and investment. The Iranian people should consume domestic products and avoid using those produced overseas.
“With such an approach, hopefully the nation will overcome the conspiracies of the enemies. We pray to God to help the Iranian nation,” he added.
Following the video message, the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) released new guidelines for U.S. companies to export goods to Iran that would support Internet messaging services and other online capabilities according to a White House press release.
“The United States will continue to draw attention to the electronic curtain that is cutting the Iranian people off from the world, and we hope that others will join us in advancing a basic freedom for the Iranian people – the freedom to connect with one another and with their fellow human beings,” Obama says in the video. “Over the last year we have learned once more that suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people are the heirs to a great and ancient civilization. Like people everywhere they have the universal right to think and speak for themselves.”