Jill Biden greets the guests at Nowruz reception: "For women, life, and freedom”
Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, greeted guests at the Nowruz Reception of the White House on Monday, welcoming them in Persian, "Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak" ("Happy New Year").
She followed with the lyrics of "Baraye" ("For"), a song by Iranian singer and songwriter Shervin Hajipour, inspired by the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Jina Amini who was killed in police custody in Iran on 16 September.
She read out a part of the lyrics: "For the feeling of peace / for the sun after these long nights / for women, life, and freedom.”
Nowruz, or Newroz ("New Year"), is celebrated on the vernal equinox as the arrival of the new year by Persians and Kurds.
President Joe Biden in his address at the reception payed tribute to Iranian women and girls who took to the streets in Iran following the death of Amini, and pledged to keep pressure on Tehran.
Biden said he wished the Nowruz festival, which is also celebrated by the Kurds and other Middle Eastern peoples as a tradition that dates back nearly 4,000 years, to be a moment of "hope for women in Iran who are fighting for their human rights and fundamental freedoms."
"The United States stands with those brave women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their conviction," Biden said, describing the reception the biggest White House newroz celebration to date. "We're going to continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for their attacks against their people."
The United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom have imposed a series of new sanctions on dozens of Iranian officials and organizations, including special military and police forces in the country responsible for their violent actions.
The protests began in mid-September, when Amini died after being arrested by Iran's morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code.
The protests represent one of the biggest challenges to Iran's theocracy since the 1979 revolution.