French court to rule on Al-Manar TV ban

12th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 11 (AFP) - France's Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, will rule Monday on whether to ban Al-Manar television, the mouthpiece of the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah, from being broadcast in France by satellite for inciting hatred.

PARIS, Dec 11 (AFP) - France's Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, will rule Monday on whether to ban Al-Manar television, the mouthpiece of the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah, from being broadcast in France by satellite for inciting hatred.

Judge Bruno Genevois said he had considered Saturday a request by France's Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA), which regulates broadcasting, to ban Al-Manar for transmitting allegedly anti-Semitic statements, only weeks after a deal allowing the controversial channel to take the air.

The request has the backing of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and the central Consistory of Jewish communities in France, Genevois said.

He added that the Council's deliberations were not aimed at "a debate on the political situation in the Middle East."

He said he would issue his decision on Monday afternoon, without specifying a time.

Al-Manar is broadcast in Europe via Paris-based Eutelsat as part of a package of nine channels put out by Saudi-based Arabsat.

Eutelsat's lawyer Emmanuel Piwnica said that if the Council of State ruled against Al-Manar, the order to stop transmitting would take between 12 and 24 hours to implement. Eutelsat would first ask Arabsat to drop Al-Manar from its package, and if that did not happen it would phase out the signal.

Lebanese authorities Friday threatened to take sanctions against French media outlets in Lebanon should Paris act against Al-Manar.

Lebanese Information Minister Elie Ferzli wrote last week to Arab League chief Amr Mussa, asking for a review of the privileges granted to some French media outlets operating in the Arab world "which carry anti-Arab, racist material that incites hate."

Foreign Minister Mahmud Hammud also contacted Mussa and asked Lebanon's ambassador in Paris, Sylvie Fadlallah, to raise the matter with the French foreign ministry.

France's CSA acted after Al-Manar broadcast a statement by a speaker accusing Israel of disseminating AIDS in the Arab world, despite pledging not to incite hatred or violence in an agreement on November 19.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin called for the channel to be taken off because its programmes were "incompatible with our values".

Al-Manar for its part blamed incitement by Israel and its supporters to have it banned.

Hezbollah is both a political party in Lebanon and a militia group which from to time launches cross-border attacks against Israel. It is viewed by the United States and some European countries as a terrorist organisation.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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