Iran Closes al-Jazeera Offices
Iran closes al-Jazeera offices (Guardian)
The Iranian authorities have shut down the Tehran offices of al-Jazeera, accusing the broadcaster of inflaming ethnic riots in the south of the country. Al-Jazeera said today it had been told to stop broadcasting in Iran and had appealed to the government to reverse its decision. “Al-Jazeera assures its audience that it will continue to cover Iranian affairs objectively, comprehensively and in a balanced way, and calls on the relevant Iranian authorities to reconsider the decision to suspend its bureau’s activities,” the broadcaster said.
The Arabic news network was first to report the unrest in Iran’s south-west Khuzestan province near the Iraq border, which has led to 200 arrests over the past few days. The unrest was also discussed on al-Jazeera’s talkshows, prompting a government investigation into its coverage. “We suspended its activity in Iran to investigate the network’s role in unrest in Ahvaz,” Mohammad Khoshvaght of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry told state television. “We expect the network to respect Iran’s national integrity and security. If it is proved that al-Jazeera committed a crime, it will be prosecuted.”
Al-Jazeera is sensationalist and biased by Western standards but a breath of fresh air compared to the state controlled media of most Middle East states. That’s why the U.S. can’t afford to shut down the network despite its annoying tendencies–and why the Iranian mullahs very much need to.