Accessibility links

Breaking News

Nowruz 2011

A Nowruz Celebration in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan

The ancient spring festival of Nowruz is currently being celebrated by millions of people around the world.

The ancient spring festival of Nowruz is currently being celebrated by millions of people around the world. The word itself means "new day." And, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted in her Nowruz message, diverse populations, including Americans, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris, Iranians, and the people of Central Asia, gather with family and friends to celebrate the beginning of spring and the new year, and to contemplate "the themes of rebirth and the pursuit of happiness. . . .aspirations we all share.

"This year allows us to reflect on recent events in the Middle East," said Secretary of State Clinton in a statement. "We commend the demonstration of peaceful expressions of human rights and dignity we have seen in much of the region. We join the world community in embracing Nowruz's opportunities and in striving to uphold its values."

In a video-taped Nowruz message, President Barack Obama also spoke of the "the season of promise" taking place in the Middle East and North Africa: "What we are seeing across the region is the insistence on governments that are accountable to the people."

President Obama noted that "the same forces of hope that swept across Tahrir Square were seen in Azadi Square in June of 2009. . .

"And just as the people of the region have insisted that they have a choice in how they are governed, so do the governments of the region have a choice in their response. So far the Iranian government has responded by demonstrating that it cares far more about preserving its own power than respecting the rights of the Iranian people." [

President Obama said the campaign of intimidation and abuse visited by the Iranian regime on the Iranian people is a demonstration of fear, not strength. "But the future of Iran will not be shaped by fear. The future of Iran belongs to the young people – the youth who will determine their own destiny."

Speaking directly to them, President Obama said, "You. . . carry within you both the ancient greatness of Persian civilization, and the power to forge a country that is responsive to your aspirations. . . .

"And though times may seem dark, I want you to know that I am with you."

Referencing the Iranian poet Simin Behbahani who, in a poem, vows to begin a second youth with her country, President Obama said, "Let this be a season of second youth for all Iranians -- a time in which a new season bears new life once more."