Obama assails ‘electronic curtain’ in Iran


US President Barack Obama, in a holiday message Tuesday to the Iranian people, said that the two nations despite their tensions share a “common humanity,” as he pressed for greater freedom for those living in Iran.
“There is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another,” Obama said in a statement to Iranians on Nowruz, the Persian New Year, adding that “the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want.” “To the people of Iran, this holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries,” Obama said. “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.” But the message offered fresh criticism of the Iran government on human rights issues, saying Tehran has created an “electronic curtain” for Iranians.
“The Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts,” Obama said. “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, Obama said “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,” he added. “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.”