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Thursday, April 21, 2005
The Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued an order banning Al Jazeera from working in Iran starting Monday, April 18, 2005.

The 'suspension' comes after Arab Iranians protested in the city of Ahvaz. The Iranians claim that Al Jazeera incited the protests. Al Jazeera has stated 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."

This is not the first time Al Jazeera has crossed paths with governments in the Middle East. Iraq and Saudi Arabia currently do not allow the channel to operate within their borders.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned Iranian ban on Al-Jazeera as "Spiteful Act of Censorship".

Aidan White, IFJ's General Secretary wrote, "This closure is a spiteful act of censorship and a blatant attempt by the authorities to make media the scapegoat for civil unrest. If Iran has complaints about media standards it should seek professional redress, not take action that undermines press freedom and pluralism."

While there is a diverse range of internal Iranian media, including 64,000 blogs, press freedom is not absolute, for example, the reformist newspaper Shargh was banned from publishing from February 18, 2004 to February 28, 2004, and the newspaper Khordad was formally banned but was recreated with the new name of Fath.

Al Jazeera, is an Arab satellite network. In the United States it is best known for broadcasting Osama bin Laden's videotapes.

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