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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Bahrain bans Al Jazeera TV
A man votes in Bahrain
Al Jazeera was not allowed to cover Bahrain's elections
Bahrain has banned the Arabic television channel Al Jazeera from reporting from inside the Gulf state, Information Minister Nabil al-Hamr said on Friday.

According to a news bulletin on the Qatar-based channel, Mr al-Hamr said the ban was being imposed because the station was biased towards Israel and against Bahrain.

We will not deal with this channel because we object to its coverage of current affairs. It is a channel penetrated by Zionists

Information Minister Nabil al-Hamr (from report on Al Jazeera
The television station was denied permission to cover Bahrain's first election for almost three decades, which took place on Thursday, despite the presence of Arab and world media organisations.

Al Jazeera was barred from covering the local elections because it "deliberately seeks to harm Bahrain" Al Jazeera quoted Mr al-Hamr as saying.

Government anger

Mr al-Hamr is said to have accused the station of being infiltrated by Zionists.

"We believe (Al Jazeera) is suspect and represents the Zionist side in the region. We will not deal with this channel because we object to its coverage of current affairs. It is a channel penetrated by Zionists," he was quoted as saying.

On Thursday Bahrain held landmark local elections in the first stage of the country's new move towards democracy.

Map, BBC

The vote was significant because it is the first time in Bahrain's history that women have been able either to stand or to vote in elections.

Sources within Bahrain say the government had been angered by Al Jazeera airing footage of recent anti-US protests in Bahrain without permission.

The protests were triggered by Israeli military action in the West Bank.

The Ministry of Information in Manama confirmed that Al Jazeera had been now been banned from Bahrain, but would not comment on whether the minister had accused the station of Zionism.

Al Jazeera gained world fame in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US through its exclusive footage of videotapes of Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terror network.

See also:

10 May 02 | Middle East
Bahrain women fail in landmark poll
26 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bahrain blocks opposition websites
14 Feb 02 | Middle East
Bahrain steps up democratic reforms
15 Apr 02 | Americas
Tape 'shows 11 September hijacker'
08 Oct 01 | Media reports
Al-Jazeera goes it alone
05 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bahrain
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