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.

 

New Israel party created amid rumours of early elections

French lawmakers to debate recognition of Palestine

Oil prices nosedive in Asia after OPEC refuses to cede ground to US shale

Foreign workers will get more protection in Gulf

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

Syria, Russia support UN in suspending Aleppo fighting

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy

Morocco arrests six over online IS allegiance pledge

Iraqi forces retake areas near Iran border from jihadists

Southern Morocco storms claim eight lives