Inspired by US President Barack Obama’s 2008 “Yes We Can” song, supporters of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani released a homage video last week to celebrate his 100th day in office.
Entitled “New Voyager,” the video was the initiative of Iranian musicians, done without Rouhani’s knowledge, according to its description on YouTube, but the president later uploaded it to his personal website.
Footage of Rouhani’s inaugural speech is spliced with Iranian men, women, and children singing and reciting lines of his speech.
Rouhani was elected president in June 2013.
The video features lines in languages spoken by Iran’s minorities, including Arabic, Azeri, Balochi, and Kurdish. It also has musical instruments and women singing, both prohibited on Iranian state television.
“Let our hearts be cleansed of resentment,” said Rouhani in his speech. “Let conciliation substitute estrangement, and friendship substitute animosity.”
“Let the compassionate face of Islam,” he continued, “the rational face of Islam, the human face of the Revolution, and the affectionate face of the Establishment, continue to create epics.”
“For, to our goal, long is the path and I am a new voyager.”
The Obama video, on which the Rouhani footage was based, took the words of his speech after the 2008 New Hampshire primary, and featured famous actors and performers, including Scarlett Johansson and will.i.am.
“New Voyager” came out as Iran is enjoying newfound warm relations with the West, and is trying to change its image in the world. Rouhani kicked off a “charm offensive” in September with his address before the UN General Assembly, followed by interviews with American news outlets and an op-ed in The Washington Post. In addition, authorities pulled down dozens of anti-US banners and posters around Tehran on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
Still, critics charge that the media campaign is just window dressing to cover up ongoing human rights violations in Iran.
In November, Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi charged that 40 people had been executed in the 10 days prior, including political prisoners.
Since Rouhani was inaugurated in August, she said, the number of executions has doubled compared with a year ago.
Top opposition figures, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, remain under house arrest, and newspapers are still being shut down for articles authorities deem offensive.