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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 15:16 GMT
Pop idol pulled from Algerian TV
Superstar show
Singing contests are a big hit with many male and female fans
Algeria's national television channel has stopped showing the popular pan-Arab programme, Star Academy, after protests by the main Islamist party.

Islamist leader Aboudjerra Soltani said the show was a "provocation against society and attacked its moral values".

The Lebanese-produced show is based on the global Pop Idol concept and has attracted large viewing figures in Algeria and the whole Arab world.

Mr Soltani told the media the show was cancelled by order of the president.

"Not for family viewing"

Mr Soltani, the leader of the Movement for a Society of Peace, is a government minister without portfolio and his party, formerly known as Hamas, is part of the ruling coalition.

The president of Algeria's High Islamic Council has also welcomed the ban.

The show "is far from artistic and goes against our society's moral standards", says Cheikh Bouamrane.

Both leaders have said that the programme, broadcast during prime time, is not fit for family viewing.

"Today, they ban television shows. Tomorrow they will brain-wash the population, in the name of Islam", writes Omar Belhouchet, the editor of the popular daily newspaper El Watan.

Popular with women

Star Academy is not the only pan-Arab programme based on the Pop Idol concept. Its main rival, Super Star, has just ended its latest season this week and has proved just as popular.

The BBC's Areski Himeur in Algiers says that hardline Islamists have been shocked by some images of and dances performed by some of the female contestants.

However Star Academy has proved very popular among Algerian television viewers, in particular women.

Those who want to keep following the show will still be able to see the show on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) which is available via satellite dishes.

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