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Obama Takes to YouTube to Deliver His Nowruz Message to Iran(ians)

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, March 23 2009

President Barack Obama managed to pack into a three-and-a-half-minute YouTube video clip both well-wishes to Iranians marking the celebration of Nowruz and the extension of a semi-open hand to Iran's leaders -- deriding "threats" but offering up hope for "engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect." (The White House makes plain on YouTube that the clip is in the public domain. What's Farsi for "Forward this, please!"?) The Guardian U.K.'s Julian Borger argues the video's mission is to undermine the claim of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others that Obama is nothing more than George Bush redux. Bush, to be sure, delivered his own Persian New Year's message last year, but he did it via the Voice of America's Persian News Network -- and he used it to chronicle the failings of the Iranian leadership. But how many Iranians living in Iran actually saw Obama's message? That's somewhat unclear. The Associated Press notes that, unsurprisingly, the clip wasn't aired on Iran's state-run television. And, reports the AP, "popular video-sharing sites like YouTube are blocked in Iran." But Berkman Center's new crowd-reported Herdict site tells a different story. Out of 30 reports coming out of Iran, a full 22 contributors say that they're managing to get their YouTube fix.