Obama takes message to Iranian people
March 20th, 2012
11:42 AM ET

Obama takes message to Iranian people

(CNN) - President Obama took his message directly to the people of Iran Tuesday, calling for recognition of the “common humanity that we share.”

The comments were part of a video message released by the White House to mark Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, and come amid increasing friction between Iran and the United States over its continued nuclear program.

"To the people of Iran, this holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries. But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share," the president says in the video. "There is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another."

Versions of the video with Arabic and Persian subtitles were also released.

The president also targets the Iranian government in his message, faulting them for putting restrictions on the free flow of information.

“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,” he said.

Full transcript of remarks:

Today, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those who are celebrating Nowruz around the world. In communities and homes from America to southwest Asia, families and friends are coming together to celebrate the hope that comes with renewal.

To the people of Iran, this holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries. But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share.

There is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another. Here in the United States, Iranian-Americans prosper and contribute greatly to our culture. This year, an Iranian production – “A Separation” – won America’s highest honor for a foreign film. Our navies have confronted the danger of piracy, with U.S. sailors even rescuing Iranian citizens who had been taken hostage. And from Facebook to Twitter – from cell phones to the Internet – our people use the same tools to talk to one another, and to enrich our lives.

Yet increasingly, the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want. 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. And in recent weeks, Internet restrictions have become so severe that Iranians cannot communicate freely with their loved ones within Iran, or beyond its borders. Technologies that should empower citizens are being used to repress them.

Because of the actions of the Iranian regime, an electronic curtain has fallen around Iran – a barrier that stops the free flow of information and ideas into the country, and denies the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with the Iranian people, who have so much to offer.

I want the Iranian people to know that America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations. That’s why we set up a Virtual Embassy, so you can see for yourselves what the United States is saying and doing. We’re using Farsi on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. And even as we’ve imposed sanctions on the Iranian government, today, my Administration is issuing new guidelines to make it easier for American businesses to provide software and services into Iran that will make it easier for the Iranian people to use the Internet.

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.

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. The Iranian government has a responsibility to respect these rights, just as it has a responsibility to meet its obligations with regard to its nuclear program. Let me say again that if the Iranian government pursues a responsible path, it will be welcomed once more among the community of nations, and the Iranian people will have greater opportunities to prosper.

So in this season of new beginnings, the people of Iran should know that the United States of America seeks a future of deeper connections between our people – a time when the electronic curtain that divides us is lifted and your voices are heard; a season in which mistrust and fear are overcome by mutual understanding and our common hopes as human beings.

Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak.


Topics: The News

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Howard

    WHERE WAS OBAMA, WHEN THE IRANIAN PEOPLE RISKED THEIR LIVES IN PROTEST AGAINST THEIR CORRUPT REGIME ... HE RESPONDED BY VOTING 'PRESENT' ... JUST LIKE HE DID 127 TIMES IN THE SENATE ... AND JUST LIKE HE'S BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST 3 1/2 YEARS AS PRESIDENT.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Sayer

      President Obama was uniting the world against their corrupt regime to impose unprecedented diplomatic & economic sanctions. This much we know. There are other things we are doing that are covert. No more cowboy diplomacy. War is the final and least desirable option.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
      • Howard

        LINCOLN UNITED A DIVIDED COUNTRY ... AND, OBAMA HAS DIVIDED A UNITED COUNTRY !!!

        March 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
      • Ari3s

        Thanks "All-Caps All-Star HOWARD" but please try to use your brain and realize Bush divided us with his unjustified wars and the recession he created.

        March 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
      • 1FreeWorld

        @Aris3

        Please look up George Soros and all the Media Outlets that he has supported to make sure that it seem like we were divided by Bush.

        The Commies, Leftists, Marxists, Maoists, etc. have ALMOST complete control over the Media.

        They POUNDED you to think that there were divisions, but, THE DIVISIONS were OF THEIR OWN MAKING!

        And you bought into it.

        We are out here fighting against the George Soros' Media,,,,

        And we are winning!

        I DO NOT SEE ANY BHO Bumper Stickers.,,,,

        Well, I saw one on a Foreign-made-car,,,,

        She looked like a Commie Teacher that is indoctrinating our kids!
        (I think she has never heard of the UAW Union - Too far away from the Northern Unions)

        March 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
      • 1FreeWorld

        WOW!

        Check it out!

        If you were born after 1985,,, check this one out!

        Might be worth the couple of minutes out of your day...

        There was this guy, that was well known by kids older than you that had a great insight into today!

        1985,,,, was that the year that Big Brother was supposed to be watching you?

        Who is Big Brother?

        Check it out!

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJc8Mzg0C-c&w=640&h=360]

        Seems like Paul Harvey was/is a prophet without profit!

        May PH RIP!

        Can anybody here tell me what I just typed?

        March 22, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
      • Never Wrong

        1freeworld, your paranoid, uneducated, and sadly allowed to comment on anything. There are medications for paranoid schizophrenics like yourself, and this, ' oh god the commies are coming', is tired and not even relevant in any political discourse, unless your stuck in the late 70's. Take you uneducated, unenlightened, inbred thought process back to deliverance chump. Wow....

        March 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
      • 1FreeWorld

        @NeverWrong,,,,

        Do you know the difference between...

        1) Your
        2) You're
        and
        3) You are?

        Well,,, ahem,,, YOU'RE WRONG FOR ONCE!
        Actually, you have many errors in your RANT!

        Libs are so funny in their Underwear!

        Ha ha ha ha ha!

        or is that There,,, or They're,,,, or is it just that they are a product of the ineffective Unionized Government Education System!

        Listen NeverWrong,,, I have a trophy for your,,, err, you're participation,,,,

        Is your self esteem feeling better now?

        March 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
      • 1FreeWorld

        Yes, Libs are so funny in their Underwear!

        Some Libs are very visual and are opinionated on correct outfits, but MOST are spectators of such.

        See their choices of Underwear here:

        Caution, might upset some of the Libs and DemocRats:

        http://spectator.org/archives/2012/03/27/the-plot-to-get-rush/

        Parental Discretion Advised, (for NeverWrong, that might be Adviced)

        March 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
      • MaryM

        1Free, You are going to be sooooo sad in NOV 2012

        April 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
      • MaryM

        Howard and 1Free, you both are going to be sooooooo sad in NOV 2012

        April 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
      • 1FreeWorld

        I am so excited!

        I DO NOT SEE that many Obummer Bumper Stickers on cars!

        NOBODY wants THAT flexable next-possibly-elected LOSER!

        Talk about a Political FAIL!,,, err,,, SHELLACKING!

        Might be a Love Affair between $4.00+ per Gallon Gas and

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AieUk2AH4w&w=640&h=360]

        April 1, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
      • Obama 2012

        Howard your ignorance and other people like you are totally amazing how could you say Obama has divided this country, first of all this country has been divided since Bush came into office since the year 2000 on up to 2008 and still going with all the GOP corrupt policies that Bush put in place, a divided movement in this country, that's why this nation is in a Financial mess and big disagreements in are government because of Bush. So who are you to criticize Obama for dividing this country, if anybody who's dividing this country would be you and others just like you. You people talk so much Sh*t !!! it's unbelievable how ignorant and St upid !!! you all sound. Get a life !!! So ignorant and a Hypocrite, look at yourself before you speak.

        April 3, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Tom

      Republicans want to replay the same economic policies that ended in the worst financial disaster since 1929 and they also want to revive the same flawed international policies that reduced our credibility on the world stage to all-time lows. Had we gotten involved in Iranian domestic issues prematurely, the Iranians and all repressive regimes in the area would use our involvement to rally everyone around the very regimes that their people sought to end. By NOT getting involved, we kept the focus and pressure on the regimes themselves with little opportunity to blame "US meddling".

      Obama's strategy is more effective, faster and far less costly both in lives and money. And, by holding back, Obama also reserves our military strength thereby making our potential threat to repressive regimes more powerful. Obviously, Iran has much more to worry about with our troops out of Iraq and leaving Afghanistan than if we were still heavily invested in those two wars.

      The best use of military power is to win the battle without firing a bullet. This is Obama's strategy... and it will work (– so long as we re-elect our current commander-in-chief.)

      Obama 2012

      March 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • Mary 930

        Great blog,Tom.

        March 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
      • 1FreeWorld

        I Sure hope the first strike from Iran LANDS on your HOME.

        If not on your HOME, I hope it lands somewhere close to you and your family.

        Well, not actually. I would prefer that we stopped that strike on your HOME and your FAMILY.

        Good luck to you.

        If folks want to hurt you, I sure hope you strike them before they strike you!

        But if you want to talk to them,,, please do,,, and talk fast...
        they are about to strike!

        March 20, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • neil

      Man of talk definitely not the walk part, still no jobs, houses still being reposessed, massive dept, please do something

      March 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      IF CONGRESSMAN OBAMA WOULD HAVE TAKEN SIDES, HIS RESPONSE WOULD HAVE ENLARGED THE SCANDAL TO WORLD WIDE PROPORTIONS. PLUS THE IRANIAN DICTATORS WERE TAKEN DOWN, BUT THEIR SUPPOSEDLY LIBERAL SAVIOR: SADAM HUSSEIN BECAME A DICTATOR TOO. SO , WHERE ARE WE? AS GOOD PLAYERS OF CHESS KNOW, YOU THINK CAREFULLY FOR EACH DICE YOU MOVE. THINK ABOUT IT!

      April 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      WHAT YEAR? YOU DONT GIVE DATES.SEE, NO MATTER HOW OBAMA VOTED, THE RULERS OF IRAN BEFORE SADDAM HUSSEIN WERE AS DICTATORIAL AS HUSSEIN BECAME.PLUS YOUNGER OBAMA EVOLVED A DIFFERENT AND BETTER MENTALITY AND POLICIES. YOUR RONALD REAGAN WAS FAMOUS FOR FIRST AGREEING AND LATER CONTRADICT ITS OWN ADVISORS, GO READ THE RR MEMOIRS BY LOU CANNON.

      FRANKLY, GIVEN THE ULTRACONSERVATIVE NEGATIVITY, DISMISSING THEM FOOLS HAS BEEN AN EFFECTIVE POLICY. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS PRESIDENT TO HELP US THE PEOPLE, NOT TO AGREE WITH A SMALL MINDED REPUBLICAN GROUP OF HYSTERICAL ULTRACONSERVATIVES🙂

      April 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  2. BigTBone

    I thought the last big uprising in Iran was in 2008. Obama wasn't sworn in til 1/09. How was he supposed to gauge the level of dissent in the streets then, much less do anything to encourage it?

    The president is playing a superb chess match by appealing directly to the people. They'll see this message. Social media will have more of an impact on regime change than anything. Drop tablets and smartphones instead of bombs and watch the people start to demand more honesty from their govt. We don't need another conflict to be involved in.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • FLIndependent

      It has come to pass that this President believes in "People Power". That is why he told Congress after they bucked him on his jobs policy and tax hike for the rich that he was going to take it to the people – he really is the only president in recent history that respects the rights of the masses and not the government officials. That is why he campaigned on "Yes WE Can" – he never said "Yes I Can" and I think that is the most frustrating thing about the Repub rhetoric when they say he's broken promises. No, it is us that broke our promise to President Obama if we choose to not stand by him and let him finish what he's started. What happened in the 2010 mid-terms was a travesty and the people that voted for Obama in '08 but either voted for the Repubs or not at all in 2010 should be ashamed.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
      • Storm

        well said!

        March 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
      • 1FreeWorld

        Maybe this might help!

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9H45XI4wxw&w=640&h=360]

        Ohhh!

        Blaggo, DEMOCRAT GOV, from the State that is home to Chicago,,,Illinois, is going to jail for 14 years!

        A lot of DEMOCRATS are going to jail, now-a-days!

        I am hopping Blaggo and Barry wHousehinee, are friends, they will have a lot to talk about in the next 14 years!!!

        March 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  3. Lefty

    The people might like this but it's doubtful it will change anything. In about 2 months the strictest portion of the sanctions kick in, we'll see what happens after that.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Kevin

      All part of the same game Lefty. Get out in front of the severe sanctions by planting seeds in the people of Iran, whom are far more educated and savvy than they are given credit for. Once those sanctions hit, they'll remember this message. You can't say social media isn't a powerful tool in this regard...you only need to look at Egypt, Libya, Algeria to know it emboldens people to know they're not alone.

      March 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
      • Daniela

        Anon 9:19 AM,Agreed that human rights isuses should not be politicized. But isn't that exactly what you are doing, referring to the movement in Iran as so-called "freedom movement," and accusing all of the movement as tools of foreigners and supporters of sanctions? BTW, where did you get your info? Please refer us to any documents that show the movement's support for sanctions, and please refer us to other documents that show the leaders of the movement, the like of Mousavi who is the former prime minister of Iran during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, is working for the foreigners.

        May 22, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  4. judy

    We have an inovative president who is doing all he can to speak directly to the Iranian people. This is a good idea and use of the internet has already proven to be a powerful tool. Unfortunatly t he repo party is full of dottering old men and out dated ideas, If this helps at all it is a good thing and should not be a source of condemnation for our president by the repos. Obama 2012

    March 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Mary 930

      So true, Judy.

      March 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Mary 930

      So true, Judy. President Obama will go down in history as one of the best presidents this country has ever had.. He has done a great job with the mess Bush left him.

      March 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • jerry

      you are either ignorant or brainwashed by your marxist master...either way you just don't make sense.

      March 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
      • The REAL Truth

        Jerry – go find a mirror dude. Your right wing regurgitated platitudes are endless and demeaning. You can look those *big* words up in a dictionary, same time as you looking up the meaning of *marxist*.

        March 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  5. jake

    A world at peace is a world much desired not just for us, but for all others. We cannot continue a posture of 50 years ago where the big stick would be our talking point. Dialogue is always the preferred choice, rather than war. In war, people die, their people and our people. In war, many dollars are spent in killing lives rather than in saving lives. In war, everyone loses, you, me, our kids, our loved ones, and our countrymen. Wars cost lives, real everyday young lives, like your neighbors, their kids, your kids, your spouse. There is no future in wars but plenty in waste and decline. We make a gesture for peace, for dialogue, for cooperation. That is all we can do, the rest is up to others. This President, whether liked or not liked is trying just that...to find peace and not send our people to die in wars. Unless you personally experienced the loss of a child or spouse to a war far far away, war always seems distant, not affecting you. Nothing can be further from the truth. We all lose when we lose one of our own...always.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Truth

    I voted for Obama, but my question is this. Why doesn't he connect with people of all countries in this way and not just Iran. How about North Korea, Cuba, Palestine, Syria, etc. Why is he only promoting American business' for internet technology. There are real problems in this world and within our own country which are much more pressing than this. Why do we allow Israel to threaten other countries with war and publicly condone it? Why do we talk so much about giving other people liberty and freedom when they are taking away our own rights here in our own country and we don't seem to care. HR 347, patriot act, etc.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  7. MeMelvin

    Barak is playing with fire! Here's the truth. Iran cannot, nor will not “nuke” Israel.

    Israel is a physically small country with 6 million Jews and 1.5 million Arabs/Palestinians/Muslims. Jerusalem is the home of the third holiest site in Islam.

    To nuke Israel may kill many Israelites, but it would also kill many Muslims, pollute the land and air, and destroy (or contaminate) the Dome of the Rock. Other Islamic nations would be the first to condemn and attack Iran all on their own for such heresy.

    BUT, where is there a large population of Jews outside of Israel? Where is there a large population of Christians and other infidels? New York, which contains nothing of significant Islam heritage or sanctity. And the potential for great damage to Iran's other sworn enemy; us!

    So, let’s imagine for a moment that you are Ahmadinejad.

    Where is and what is the nuclear target which would yield the “biggest bang for the buck”?
    Israel will not suffer an Iranian nuke, but the USA well might.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Steveo

      That Dome of the Rock comment was excellent! Nice job!

      March 21, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  8. jerry

    Does obama really think this will turn the heads of the Iranians? Obama already screwed them when they had their green uprising...he turned his back on them thinking he did not want to alienate the Mullas and that he would be able to talk them out of their nukes...WRONG! You must understand that obama is a narcissist... he has this personality disorder and it shows. Foreign leaders GET obama...and they know he is of little significance and they act accordingly...Iran knows he is weak and they push him...Russia knows he is weak and they have pushed him in eastern europe (sold out the Polish). And France, Spain, and Italy talked him into fighting the Libyian war and their leadership...which did nothing for us but risk our lives and capital... So Barack blow your horn as you have for the past few years...we get you too and will vote accordingly.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • The REAL Truth

      @jerry – you must be getting your info from the faux noise channel. You said "And France, Spain, and Italy talked him into fighting the Libyian war and their leadership...which did nothing for us but risk our lives and capital". REALLY? I mean REALLY? Don't you FACT check ANYTHING before you post? Oh wait.. you don't need to, 'cus it anti-Obama and thus must be correct. We did not lose a single US life in Libya. Unlike the 6,000+ in the Bush-initiated Iraq war.

      American Military Casualties in Iraq
      Date Total In Combat
      American Deaths
      Since war began (3/19/03): 4486 3532
      Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list) 4347 3424
      Since Handover (6/29/04): 3627 2899
      Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 257 128

      March 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Name*Liz Carter

    Jerry...I know you and your ILK want to go in and fight!! That's what you all do!! Fight! Jeep a war brewing on the back burner so you can get back to fighting as soon as you can! War is money and money is what most of our 1 percent are sitting back here waiting on! Most of them have interests, stocks and money tied up in military equipment building operations, and hadn't had their foot in a boot!! President Obama said when he was running that he'd be willing to sit down and talk to Ahmadenijad/Iran work up something that would be satifactory to them and us. He said he would sit down with him and they would negotiate with one another until they could come to a reasonable compromise that they both could live with! Even the Lord suggested that we sit down and reason together. That's what civilized people do, Jerry!! My goodness!!

    March 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • MaryM

      Great comment Liz

      April 1, 2012 at 10:44 am |