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.

 

US troops to return to Mideast

Palestinians to UN: Israel occupation must end in 2016

Assad: Countries that backed terrorism can't defeat jihadists

Libya militants vow to continue ‘military operations’

Foreign jihad lures Tunisia youth: About 3,000 in Syria alone

Skeptical Netanyahu seeks Obama reassurances on Iran

Turkey pushes for long-term solution to ‘Islamic State’ crisis

Metamorphosis of Salim Benghalem: From weed-smoking clubber to US-wanted jihadist

Violence across Iraq kills at least 1,119 people in September

Bahrain court lifts travel ban on Maryam al-Khawaja

Israel, Palestinians agree on one thing: Futility of peace talks

Netanyahu to Ban Ki-moon: Probe into Gaza war ‘one-sided’!

Kurds battle to defend strategic border town in Syria

Iran Nobel laureate questions Tutu's silence on Dalai Lama visa row

Iraqi Kurds hope US-led air strikes can break stalemate

Argentine President charges US could kill her

IS jihadists close in on Turkish border

Israel settlers forcefully occupy 25 homes in East Jerusalem

Gunmen wound Saudi policeman in Shiite village in Eastern Province

Erakat likens Netanyahu to leader of ‘Islamic State’

Voters to choose among 27 candidates in Tunisia presidential race

Iran offers military equipment to Lebanon army

Iran extends compulsory military service to 2 years

Frustration grows over Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

US-led air strikes pound ‘Islamic State’ near Syria border town

Britain plans action against extremism ‘in all its forms’

Vigilante groups terrorise Syria refugees in Lebanon

Kurd troops launch offensive on IS on three fronts

Balkans clamp down on jihadist recruitment

Syrian refugees try their luck in Latin America

Indian PM warns US to repeat Iraq 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Israel PM warns Iran poses gravest threat to world

Kuwait strips 18 nationals of citizenship

Ahead of Tunisia elections, Ghannouchi appeals for US support

Israel deploys extra forces as two faiths mark major holy days

Egypt, Libya plunge in good governance rating

Saudi Arabia breaks silence on Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

Air strikes fail to halt advance of IS jihadists in Syria

Rival Libya factions meet for reconciliation talks

Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks ‘to resume’ by mid-October

HRW criticises human rights rollback under Erdogan

Syria's Nusra Front chief warns to transfer battle to West

Obama admits to making serious mistake: We underestimated ‘Islamic State’

Germany begins training Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq

Jordan takes ‘precautionary measures’ to secure borders