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.

 

Essebsi claims victory in Tunisia presidential poll

Barzani in Mount Sinjar after end of jihadist siege

U-turn: Qatar pledges 'full support' to Sisi's Egypt

UAE blames 'irresponsible' non-OPEC output for oil price plunge

Turkey TV regulator fines popular show over ‘dance with foreigners’

Five jihadists killed in clashes with Egypt police

Coalition targets ‘Islamic State’ in areas north of Aleppo

Libya Islamist-backed government urges foreigners to return to Tripoli

Palestinians enter Egypt as Rafah crossing reopens for two days

Davutoglu accuses EU of 'dirty campaign' against Turkey

Raid on terrorists accidentally kills Saudi youth in Awamiya town

Egypt sentences ‘spy for Israel’ to ten years in prison

Jordan ends eight-year moratorium on death penalty

Egypt President removes powerful spy chief

Tunisia votes for president in final leg of democratic transition

Turkey acquits sociologist over 1998 explosion

EU foreign affairs head to visit Iraq

Turkey court remands Samanyolu TV chief in custody

IS threatens to kill Lebanese soldiers held hostage

Obama concerned about Egypt mass trials

Tough times for oil-rich GCC

Tumbling oil prices cut budgets of Mideast arms exporters

Iraq’s peshmerga ‘break’ Mount Sinjar siege

Turkish media chiefs charged with terrorism

Iraq may delay payment of Kuwait war reparations

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator