Iran General NewsAl-Jazeera ordered out of Ahmadinejad press conference

Al-Jazeera ordered out of Ahmadinejad press conference

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AFP: An Al-Jazeera television crew was ordered out of a press conference to be held by visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday, the channel’s correspondent said. ABU DHABI, May 14, 2007 (AFP) – An Al-Jazeera television crew was ordered out of a press conference to be held by visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday, the channel’s correspondent said.

Officials from the Iranian embassy in Abu Dhabi asked the team from the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera and its sister channel Al-Jazeera English to leave the hall ahead of the press conference, Mohammad al-Abdallah told AFP.

Ahmadinejad is wrapping up a landmark two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, the first by an Iranian head of state to the US Gulf ally.

A member of the Iranian delegation said the ban was related to an Al-Jazeera programme which was deemed insulting to Iraq’s Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

“It was because Iran’s parliament has ordered a ban on dealing with Al-Jazeera due to its offence to Ayatollah Sistani,” Navid Behrouz told AFP.

Predominantly Shiite Iran said last week it had banned the Doha-based station from parliament after it broadcast a talk show deemed insulting to Sistani.

Al-Jazeera said it regretted Iran’s decision, voicing hope it would not lead to a complete ban on its activities in the country, and stressed its policy of “respecting religious and public figures”.

The channel was involved in a similar controversy in December 2005 when Iraqi Shiites protested after a talk show guest accused Sistani of favouring the US occupation.

After that incident, Tehran summoned the ambassador of Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based.

Its Tehran bureau was shut down by the authorities in April 2005 amid accusations of stirring up violence in its coverage of clashes in the ethnic Arab majority southwestern oil city of Ahvaz. It only reopened 14 months later.

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