First Published: 2005-04-18

 
Iran accuses Al-Jazeera over coverage of ethnic clashes
 

Three killed, 200 arrested in fighting between ethnic Arabs and Iranian security forces in an oil-rich Ahvaz.

 

Middle East Online

Things on the move in Ahvaz

TEHRAN - Iran on Monday ordered the Arabic satellite television Al-Jazeera to "temporarily close" its Tehran bureau after controversy over its coverage of ethnic clashes, officials said.

"We have ordered the temporary closure of the Al-Jazeera bureau," said Mohammad Hossein Khoshvaght, director general of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry.

"This suspension will last for as long as is needed for our experts to examine the possible actions of the Al-Jazeera channel to provoke subversive elements in the troubles that took place."

Three people were killed and 200 arrested in fighting between ethnic Arabs and Iranian security forces in an oil-rich province bordering Iraq last week, officials said.

"Three people were killed and some 200 people were arrested during the confrontations," said interior ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani.

He said minor troubles had erupted on Sunday evening at Mah-Shahr, in the south of the same province, Khuzestan.

According to newspaper reports, demonstrators had attacked and set fire to public buildings.

The authorities, who are very sensitive to issues relating to ethnic minorities, had previously said one person was killed and 137 arrested in Friday's clashes in the southwestern province.

"All the troublemakers were arrested," Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi was quoted as saying by state run television.

"It appeared that they were linked to the subversive groups and television stations," he said, using the term for those who are trying to overthrow the Islamic regime in Iran.

The unrest, which broke out in three areas of the province's main city Ahvaz, resulted in damage to public buildings and banks.

"All these troubles came about because of a forged letter attributed to the office of the presidency of the republic, but anyone who has ever worked in an

administration would know it is false," Yunessi said.

The Iranian news agency IRNA said earlier that the forged letter called for modifications to the area's ethnic composition.

Iranians of Arab descent make up about three percent of the population of the Islamic republic but are in a majority in Ahvaz.

A local official said the letter was attributed to former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and dated from when he ran President Mohammad Khatami's office.

Abtahi denied on his website that he was behind the letter, which reportedly said that "Arabs must emigrate, Arab names of towns and villages must become Persian (in Khuzestan)."

Provincial deputies have written to the culture ministry to complain about the report by Qatar-based satellite television Al-Jazeera, which spoke of the riots being separatist unrest.

They also called for the "expulsion of representatives of the channel which had played an important role in the troubles."

A representative of the London-based Popular Democratic Front of Ahvazi Arabs in Iran, quoted by Al-Jazeera, said the group had called for peaceful demonstrations in the area "to mark 80 years of Iranian occupation" but the authorities had decided to use military force.

 

UAE warns Qatar to take neighbours' demands 'seriously'

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Nine killed in Iraq suicide bomb attack

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts

Mohammed bin Salman named Saudi crown prince

Algeria leader drops Panama Papers libel suit vs Le Monde

Morocco detains three as Rif protests continue

Israel starts work on new settlements amid Trump 'peace' push

At least 10 dead in Mogadishu suicide attack

Iraq forces advance in Mosul Old City

Yemen cholera death toll passes 1,100

Iran-made drone shot down by US plane in Syria

Raqa’s own battle to liberate hometown from IS rule

Saudi, Iraq hail 'qualitative leap' in relations

French journalist killed in Mosul

Iran protests against Tillerson 'transition' comments

Saudi foils ‘terrorist act’ in territorial waters

Ex-Barclays CEO charged with fraud over Qatar funding

London mosque terror attack suspect named in media