The Iranian people are observing Nowruz, literally new day, or the Iranian--or Persian--New Year celebrating the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring. Originally a Zoroastrian holiday it is celebrated throughout Iran. Zoroaster lived before Muhammed; Zoroastrians are a tolerated Iranian minority.
Appropriately President Obama sent holiday greetings to the Iranian people, not their government.
Nowruz is a time when so many Iranian families and loved ones come together in celebration. Moreover, it is a holiday that reminds us of the rich culture of the Iranian people, and the extraordinary contributions that they have made to human history. Yet even as holidays like this underscore the connections that we share as human beings, the Government of Iran is going to great lengths to isolate the Iranian people by cutting them off from the outside world.
For far too long, the Iranian regime has tried to control the flow of information and ideas to and from the Iranian people and the outside world. As people everywhere are making their voices heard through new technologies and social media, the people of Iran often find their voices stifled and their ability to connect denied. Like the Iron Curtain of the 20th century, an Electronic Curtain is descending as the Iranian regime attempts to control what its citizens see and hear.
The Iranian people have a universal right to access information, and to freely assemble online. Yet the Iranian regime increasingly denies these rights, and uses technology to suppress its people.
Hopefully his message will get through.