Afghanistan - Retransmission of Al-Jazira programmes banned



    MONTREAL, April 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
criticised as "unacceptable" the information and culture ministry's censorship
of Al-Jazira International's TV programmes and demanded that the ban be lifted
at once. Minister Abdul Karim Khurram accused the pan-Arab station of
"inflicting a killer blow to the cultural and the legal authority of the
government" and said the local station Lemar TV was retransmitting them
illegally.
    "The ministry's charges against Al-Jazira are inappropriate and
groundless," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "The ban is
obviously part of a wider drive by elements in the government trying to stifle
any dissident voice it does not like." The minister accused Al-Jazira, in a 5
April letter to the complaints committee of the upper house of parliament, of
not broadcasting "sufficiently Islamic" programmes during Mawlid(the prophet
Mohamed's birthday) and said Lemar TV was retransmitting Al-Jazira programmes
without permission. He also said Lemar TV and Tolo TV had not paid their
taxes. An earlier request by Khurram to end the retransmission of Al-Jazira
International was rejected by the justice minister, who said Lemar TV had done
"nothing wrong."
    Lemar TV chief Saad Mohseni said the station had stopped retransmission
after getting a letter from the justice ministry on 7 April ordering it to end
the relay of programmes from Al-Jazira International. He told Reporters
Without Borders he had dropped the programmes "to avoid violent reprisals by
security forces" and that he would bow to the president's good judgement so as
to end the dispute." He noted that the programmes had been legally
retransmitted and contained nothing blasphemous."

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Canadian office representative,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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