US President Joe Biden and first lady Dr Jill Biden paid tribute to Iranian women and the ongoing protests in Iran on March 20 during an event at the White House celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival that marks the arrival of spring.
The event, which was streamed live on the White House’s social media channels, began with a broadcast of Baraye, a song by Iranian musician Shervin Hajipour that became an unofficial anthem of the protest movement and which includes a slogan used by demonstrators: “For women, life, and freedom.”
Dr. Biden, delivering the opening remarks, addressed Iranian girls and women directly, telling them, “Your song sings in our hearts. We see your struggle and we stand with you. You are not alone.”
The first lady then welcomed NASA astronaut Lt Col Jasmin Moghbeli to the stage, prompting cheers from the audience. Moghbeli was born in Germany in 1983 to Iranian parents who fled Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and later settled in the United States.
Moghbeli said that, as a child, she would have never dreamed she would end up in the White House saying the words, “Nowruz-eide shoma mobarak,” which translates as “happy new year.”
Recounting a recent visit to her former elementary school, Moghbeli said a student asked her, “Are you going to be the first woman to walk on the moon?” Moghbeli explained to the audience that the student was referring to NASA’s Artemis program that will “soon return astronauts to the moon, paving the way for future human missions to Mars.” Moghbeli answered, “I don’t know, but I could be,” she said.
“Isn’t it amazing that I can say, with complete honesty as an Iranian-American woman who wasn’t even born here, that I have just as much chance as anyone of being on the Artemis-3 mission?” said Moghbeli to further cheers and applause.
President Biden, speaking after Moghbeli, reiterated his administration’s support for Iranian women, lauding their “conviction and courage,” and said the US and its partners would “continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for attacks against their people.” Credit: The White House via Storyful