News / Middle East

Iranian People Offer Mixed Reaction to Obama's Nowruz Message

Iranians both inside and outside Iran are giving a mixed reaction to President Barack Obama's message for the Persian New Year, Nowruz. Iranian state TV, for its part, asked Mr. Obama rhetorically what, concretely, he was planning to offer.

Iranians, both at home and abroad, are giving mixed reviews to President Obama's Nowruz message, Saturday, despite an apparent admiration for him personally. Iranian government TV, for its part, downplayed the message, questioning its sincerity.

Those comments echo statements throughout the past year by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Mr. Obama has offered "kind words, but nothing concrete" in the way of new policies.

In Saturday's Internet/Video message, President Obama told the Iranian people the United States is committed to a more hopeful future for them.
He also said the United States would like to increase opportunities for educational exhcanges and he said he wants to help ensure uncensored internet access in Iran.   President Obama said his offer last year to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran through diplomacy and dialogue still stands.

Ali Nourizadeh of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London says that most Iranians that he had spoken to were pleased by the president's message, because he addressed the Iranian people, and their aspirations for democracy, this year, and not just the Iranian government.

"This time, rather than concentrating on the Iranian regime, President Obama is acknowledging the Iranian people's demand for democracy and human rights and the Green Movement is all over his message, and I think although he has sent direct messages to the authorities as well, this time it's a different message, although he keeps the door open for negotiations, he also recognized that it's very, very difficult to sit and talk to the Iranian regime. But, in the meantime he is giving the Iranian people some hopes that the international community and especially the U.S., as the champion of human rights, is not going to forget their crusade for democracy," he said.

Supreme Iranian leader Ali Khamenei also addressed the Iranian nation for Nowruz, late Saturday, offering his special season's greetings to Iran's women and young people, as well as its martyrs, and denouncing, in ritual phrases, the country's foreign enemies, without naming them:

He said that Iran's many foreign enemies have created crises for the country, but that they have failed to achieve their goals. He claims that the Iranian people have proven the failure (of those enemies) by voting en masse during the June election and by demonstrating (for the government) on the Feb. 11th (anniversary of the Iranian revolution).

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his own Nowruz speech to the nation, also denounced "arrogant powers," and "enemies of the revolution," without naming them, either. He went on to warn them that they would get nowhere, "because God is on Iran's side."

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