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At White House Iranian New Year Festival, Michelle Obama Denounces ‘Disturbing and Hateful Rhetoric’

“We are a nation of immigrants."

First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday at an event honoring the Iranian New Year that, at a time of “hateful rhetoric,” it’s important for Americans to remember the valuable role that diversity plays in this country.

For the second year, the White House hosted a Nowruz festival. The first year came in the midst of U.S.-led multilateral negotiations regarding the nuclear deal with Iran.

First lady Michelle Obama (Image . (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

“When Barack and I first got here, we committed to opening this place up to as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible -- especially folks who have never been through these doors before,” the first lady told the crowd. She added, “We think America is strongest when we recognize our many traditions, when we celebrate our diversity and we lift each other up.”

She did not become overtly political. However, her husband President Barack Obama and other White House officials have criticized Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for rhetoric directed at immigrants and Muslims.

“Right now when we are hearing so much disturbing and hateful rhetoric, it is so important to remember that our diversity has been and will always be our greatest source of strength and pride here in the United States,” the first lady said. “We are a nation of immigrants and we should cherish the talent and energy and the beautiful traditions and cultures that come with that heritage.”

Nowruz (pronounced nou-rooz') is not only celebrated by Iranians, but also across the Middle East, Asia and in Eastern Europe. It marks both the Persian New Year and the first day of spring. The White House event featured Persian cuisine, as well as entertainment such as Persian dancers.

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