PAAIA Hosts Nowruz Reception on Capitol Hill in Honor of the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement
Washington, DC — On March 28th, 2023, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) hosted its annual Nowruz reception on Capitol Hill with over 90 members of Congress, congressional staffers, and special guests in attendance. Among them were Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), and Representatives Stephanie Bice (OK-5), Scott Franklin (FL-18), Virginia Foxx (NC-5), Jim Himes (CT-4), Shelia Jackson Lee (TX-18), Adam Schiff (CA-30), and Rob Wittman (VA-1).
Attendees had the opportunity to learn about Nowruz (the Persian New Year) while enjoying Persian cuisine and a traditional Haftseen table designed by Mitra Ghahramani. Celebrating Nowruz on Capitol Hill each year is part of PAAIA’s broader efforts to foster a greater understanding of Iranian culture and heritage as well as to project an accurate and positive image of the Iranian American community.
This year’s Nowruz reception was held in honor of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran and the brave women and girls leading it. Held on the vernal equinox each year, Nowruz is a time for hope as Spring offers the promise of a new day. As this season of renewal brings us many blessings, we hope it does the same for the people of Iran as they continue to fight for a free and just society.
During the reception, various members of Congress in attendance spoke of the significance of Nowruz, the many contributions Iranian Americans have made to the United States, and the need to support the people of Iran at this crucial time. Our featured speaker was international women’s rights advocate, Mahnaz Afkhami, who provided some background on the history of the women’s rights movement in Iran and shared her view on the current protests.
“In my experience traveling across the world for many, many decades, I have actually seen all sorts of changes happening,” said Afkhami. “But I have never in my life witnessed the kind of support that this particular movement has brought about.”
PAAIA has consistently stood with the Iranian people and their right to self-determination. It is imperative that the United States take actionable steps to support their democratic aspirations, which is why we highlighted three pieces of legislation that demonstrate congressional support for the people of Iran.
The MAHSA Act would codify sanctions against the Supreme Leader of Iran, the President of Iran, and their offices for their role in human rights abuses against the Iranian people. The Concurrent Iran Resolution condemns the violent suppression by Iranian authorities against peaceful protestors and urges the Biden Administration to prioritize efforts to expand internet freedom in Iran as well as enhance sanctions against regime leaders. And lastly, the Nowruz Resolution, which was introduced by the main congressional sponsor of our Nowruz reception, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. In addition to acknowledging the significance of the holiday, the Nowruz Resolution also proclaims congressional support for the people of Iran and their right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, as well as recognizes their aspirations for human rights, religious tolerance, and freedom.
PAAIA urged members of Congress to support these pieces of legislation as well as urged the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to mark up the MAHSA Act in their next meeting. You can contact your elected officials and ask them to support these bills and resolutions by visiting our action center.
PAAIA thanks the many volunteers who made the Nowruz reception a success and the members of Congress and their staff who joined us for the event.
This event was hosted in collaboration with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Senators Chris Murphy (CT) and Chris Van Hollen (MD), and Representatives Stephanie Bice (OK-5), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Scott Peters (CA-50), Barbara Lee (CA-12), and Jim Himes (CT-4).
View photos from the event here.