Bahrain bans al-Jazeera

Bahrain has "temporarily frozen" the activities of al-Jazeera television inside the country for "breaching professional media norms and flouting the laws regulating the press and publishing". 

The ban came to light on Tuesday when a team from al-Jazeera were prevented from entering Bahrain to interview Yvo De Boer, the UN climate chief who is due to leave his post in July. The Qatar-based network has no permanent office in the country.

The Bahraini authorities have not said how al-Jazeera is supposed to have breached "media norms" but it may be connected with a programme about poverty in Bahrain which was broadcast on Monday and described as "obscene" by the culture and information ministry.

Another possibility, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper cited by Gulf News, is that the ban results from heightened tensions between Bahrain and Qatar "after a Bahraini was wounded when Qatar's coastguards fired at him for entering Qatari waters and not heeding their warning".

An announcement from the official Bahrain News Agency yesterday suggests Bahrain is seeking to re-negotiate the terms under which al-Jazeera can be allowed to operate in the country.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 21 May 2010.