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Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 14:12 UK

Bahrain closes paper in Iran row

Bahraini reading Akhbar al-Khaleej newspaper
Akhbar al-Khaleej is a leading independent daily in Bahrain

Bahrain has ordered the closure of a prominent newspaper after it printed an article critical of political leaders in its powerful Gulf neighbour Iran.

No official reason was given for the closure of Akhbar al-Khaleej apart from that it had violated press laws.

Local sources said it was connected to a piece about Iran's election crisis by a consultative council member.

Correspondents say Sunni-ruled Bahrain is wary of unrest being stirred up among the majority Shia population.

In the article entitled the Islamic Republic: Vehement Public Anger, Samira Rajab attacked Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic revolutionary regime.

Poll winner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election thanks to "millions of fraudulent votes", the article alleged.

"After 30 years, the cover has been pulled away... and Islamic democracy has been shown in its most repugnant dictatorial forms," the article said.

The writer, who like Iran's leaders is a Shia Muslim, also referred to speculation that Mr Ahmadinejad may have Jewish ancestors.

The Bahraini Journalists Association expressed concern at the decision by the Ministry of Culture to suspend the publication of the paper until further notice, inviting it to reconsider it "to promote the atmosphere of freedom and democracy in Bahrain".

There are long-running tensions between Bahrain's Sunnis and the Shia Muslim majority, which have on occasion spilled over into civil unrest.



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