Obama Speaks Up About Iran

June 16, 2009

Kudos to President Obama for breaking his long silence on the Iranian election violence that has been raging since Saturday. Obama said, “I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability for folks to peacefully dissent, all those are universal values and need to be respected.”

Yesterday’s protests left seven people dead after hundreds of thousands took to the streets against what they view as the fraudulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

While his remarks did not touch on how he viewed the results of the election, Obama did take a strong stance against the security forces’ reaction to the protesters: “When I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, wherever that takes place, it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people. And my hope is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations.” He has also urged that a full-scale investigation be done regarding possible voter fraud.

The questions surrounding Ahmedinejad’s questionable landslide victory leave President Obama in a tight spot—whether to follow up on his big campaign promise to engage with the Iranian government, even one that is now not considered legitimate by many of its own people.

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post