THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 20, 2009
Statement from the President on Iran
"The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
"As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
"Martin Luther King once said - 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness."
Martin Luther King understood, as I think Barack Obama does also, that one of the purposes of non-violent protests is to expose the moral bankruptcy of your opponent, which is most dramatically revealed when they resort to violence. When King found that non-violent protests in Atlanta and elsewhere were meeting little resistance and getting scant media coverage, he lent his support to the movement taking place in Birmingham, where non-violent protests often led by children were met by the fire hoses of Birmingham Police Chief "Bull" Connor. Those pictures led to change. Perhaps the shocking pictures of what is taking place in Iran will lead to change also.