Al-Manar TV agrees to 'respect French law'

25th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - The head of a controversial television station linked to the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group said it would respect French law against discrimination after being allowed by France's broadcasting regulator to transmit programmes within the European Union.

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - The head of a controversial television station linked to the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group said it would respect French law against discrimination after being allowed by France's broadcasting regulator to transmit programmes within the European Union.

"We are ready to respect French law and will submit to it," Mohammed Haidar told Thursday's edition of the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro. "We have agreed to be bound by the agreement required of us" by the French Audiovisual Council (CSA).

The council gave the go-ahead on Friday despite appeals by Jewish groups not to grant a licence to the channel to transmit programmes in France after it had put out material criticised for perceived anti-Semitic content.

Following renewed protests, including from the opposition Socialist Party, the CSA said the agreement imposed on Al-Manar was of unprecedented toughness, obliging the channel "not to incite hatred, violence or discrimination based on race, sex, religion or nationality."

Haidar said the aim of the channel was to support the Palestinian cause, and it had always distinguished between Israel's policies as a state and the Jewish religion. Any changes to its programming to comply with the agreement would be minor.

He said that its broadcasting last year of a series which included particularly vicious anti-Semitic themes, such as the Middle Ages blood libel myth of alleged Jewish ritual killing of children, had been a "mistake".

Haidar denied that Al-Manar was owned by Hezbollah, which the United States and Israel have branded a terrorist organisation, while admitting that it largely defended the group's activities and views, notably with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot called this month for Hezbollah to be likewise placed on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations in a bid to dry up its financing from Europe.

However Bot acknowledged that there was lack of unanimity on this subject in the European Union.

Some governments make a distinction between Hezbollah as a political party with a dozen members in the Lebanese parliament and a broad programme of social works, and its military wing responsible for deadly attacks against Israel.

Hezbollah, "the Party of God" formed by Iranian Revolutionary Guards after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, seeks the "liberation" of all occupied Arab lands, including Jerusalem.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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