Raffarin calls for ban on Al-Manar TV

2nd December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 2 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Thursday called for a television channel close to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to be taken off air after accusing Israel of exporting AIDS to the Middle East.

PARIS, Dec 2 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Thursday called for a television channel close to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to be taken off air after accusing Israel of exporting AIDS to the Middle East.

Al-Manar was authorised to broadcast by satellite inside the European Union only two weeks ago after it signed an agreement with France's Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA) not to incite hatred or violence.

But Raffarin told the French Senate "Al-Manar's programmes are incompatible with our values. It is clear they will lead to the termination of the contract between the CSA and Al-Manar."

On November 23, monitors recorded an "expert on affairs relative to the Zionist entity" who in a press review spoke of "Zionist attempts to transmit dangerous diseases like AIDS via exports to the Arab states."

On Wednesday, the CSA made an official submission to France's highest administrative court, the state council, asking it to outlaw Al-Manar, which is relayed by the Paris-based company Eutelsat.

The state council is to rule by December 15. Raffarin said he regretted not having the powers to shut down Al-Manar's broadcasts by government decree.

"That is why I will launch an initiative very soon to give us the means to interrupt immediately any programmes that transmit hate, violence and human indignity."

In Israel, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom issued a statement praising the French government and taking credit for its action against Al-Manar.

"We congratulate the French government for taking this decision ... Our ministry has campaigned against Hezbollah in Europe and the step taken by the French government is one of the results of this campaign," he said.

Raffarin said the Al-Manar issue would be brought up at the meeting of European heads of government later this month.

"We need to bring a European response to this propaganda of hate," he said. Shalom called on the European Union to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, as has the United States.

The 25-member bloc "should prevent Hezbollah from tapping funds and developing an infrastructure in Europe, as Hamas has already done," he said of the radical Palestinian movement.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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