New Rouhani Video: He Mimics Obama in Yes We Can Message

November 27, 2013

            To mark President Hassan Rouhani’s first 100 days in power, his supporters posted a music video that appears to be inspired by President Obama’s 2008 “Yes We Can” video. It is especially striking because music generally and female performers specifically were banned after the 1979 revolution as “Westoxication,” or poisoning by Western culture.
In the sepia-toned video, a song by both male and female singers is mixed with excerpts of Rouhani’s maiden speech after his inauguration on August 3 and public comments about the president. The participants include members of Iran’s many ethnic groups as well as the disabled, deaf and children. The following are translated excerpts of the song, the president’s remarks and public comments. Links to the video were posted on Rouhani’s unofficial English and Farsi Twitter accounts.

Let us give all Iranians who love their country the opportunity to serve it…

Let those with merits serve the nation
Let us allow the hearts to be cleansed of resentment.
Let us have love, peace, and friendship instead of anger and antagonism. Let this take root.
Let us allow Islam with its peaceful face,
Iran with its rational face,
The revolution with its humane face,
And the affectionate face of the establishment
Continue to create epics.
Rouhani: I feel the weight of this election, the weight of these votes and feel the weight of this endorsement. I seek refuge in God, and God alone.”
Old man: May God assist you.
Young boy: Tomorrow is definitely bright.
Rouhani: From God who always hold the hands of his servants, sincerely and humbly…
Little girls: May God help you.
Rouhani:  …I request that you save your weak servant (himself) from the evils of haughtiness and pride, greed, envy and jealousy, oh God.
Man, woman, old man and child: God, I take refuge in you. I seek refuge in you…
Young woman, man, signing woman and man : … from autocracy of opinion, haste in decision making, putting personal or group interests ahead of those of the public, and of shutting the mouths of rivals and critics
Rouhani: Oh God, help me to be an honest servant for you…
Little boy: Oh God, help him.
Rouhani: … to be a competent servant for the people. And don’t forget what has happened to previous leaders. There is much to say but time is short. It would be best to stop talking and start on the path.
"O holy bird! May your blessing guide his path" [Hafez]
Rouhani: The road to our goal is long.  And I am a new traveler.
Maral Noori, program assistant for USIP’s Asia Pacific Program, and Simin Noori contributed to this translation.