Referring to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and destructive interference in Iraq, President George W. Bush says U.S. difficulties with Iran are "not with the Iranian people:
"My problem is with a government that takes actions that end up isolating their people and end up denying the Iranian people their true place in the world."
The Iranian regime continues to deny its citizens many of the basic freedoms they so rightly deserve. Two prominent Iranian intellectuals were recently barred from leaving Iran for a trip to the United States. Hashem Aghajari, a history professor at Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, was scheduled to give a lecture on democracy and religion at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in early February. He was to be accompanied by well-known Iranian student leader, Abdollah Momeni.
A disabled veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, Mr. Aghajari was sentenced to death for apostasy after giving a speech in Iran in 2002. In the speech, Mr. Aghajari warned his countrymen against blindly following a fundamentalist vision of Islam. He served almost two years in prison before the Iranian government, under international pressure, released him. In 2005, Mr. Momeni was given a five-year suspended sentence for organizing student protests demanding Mr. Aghajari's release.
Recently, three female Iranian on-line journalists were also barred by the government from traveling outside Iran. In an interview with Radio Farda, Mr. Momeni said that the Iranian government is seeking "to isolate intellectuals and civil society activist inside the society and to cut their ties with the outside world."
These examples clearly illustrate the United States' deep concern for the welfare of the people of Iran. That is why President Bush has said the Iranian regime is causing the Iranian people to suffer "deprivation" of their most fundamental rights and keeping them, despite their "great tradition," from being "able to realize their full potential."