News / Middle East

White House Sends Strong Message to Iran

President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House, February 11, 2011
President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House, February 11, 2011

President Obama's remarks Friday about Egypt contained strong words in support of people seeking freedom and justice throughout history, and around the world. Mr. Obama's remarks were followed by some of the strongest language heard to date from the White House about Iran.

Though he did not mention Iran specifically, President Obama did speak Friday of what he described as the moral force of non-violence that in Egypt he said had "bent the arc of history toward justice."

Noting that the word Tahrir - the name of the square in Cairo that was the epicenter of the protests - means liberation, the president said it would from now on remind the world of what the Egyptian people did to change their country and the world.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was pressed repeatedly by reporters about whether the president and his administration believe that what occurred in Egypt could happen in other countries in the region, such as Jordan and Iran.

In Iran, while the government welcomed the uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down, it also clamped down on the Iranian opposition, and blocked international media and the Internet.

Gibbs said the reaction of the Iranian government provides a contrast to events in Egypt.

"There is quite a contrast between the way the government of Egypt and the people of Egypt are interacting, and the government of Iran is threatening its very own people," he said. "I think, if the government of Iran was as confident as they would have you believe, in the statements that they put out, they would have nothing to fear with a peaceful demonstration like those you have seen in Cairo and throughout Egypt."

On the question of ripple effects from Egypt in the region and elsewhere, Gibbs repeated a standard response, that the U.S. supports basic universal rights, and believes that governments have a responsibility to uphold them.

When a reporter asked whether events in Egypt would result in any specific adjustment of U.S. policy when it comes to "other oppressive states" around the world, Gibbs said the U.S. presses nations constantly on the need to support basic rights.

"We have these conversations directly with governments throughout the world," he said.  "Again, I mention what happened not too long ago with the government of China that resulted in the leader of the Chinese saying there was much work to be done."

In his remarks on Egypt, President Obama said it was the "moral force of non-violence, not terrorism [or] mindless killing" that bent the arc of history toward justice.

Press Secretary Gibbs was asked if these words mean that the Obama administration is now arguing that expressions of popular discontent, such as the events in Egypt, will work against recruitment efforts by extremist groups.

The president's words, he said, had very specific meaning, and he added that what was seen in Egypt contrasts with groups like al-Qaida that he said "have killed people that share their religious belief in order to scare and to terrorize."

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs