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Iran has lifted its restrictions on al-Jazeera reporters, in the aftermath of the Bila Hudud al-Sistani ‘insult’ incident. Director of Foreign Media at Iran’s Ministry of Culture Mohsen Moqaddaszadeh said:
The channel is allowed to resume both its Arabic and English services in Tehran after it officially apologized to Iran and made some changes at managerial level.
Is this a reference to the al-Jazeera board of directors reshuffle that dropped Wadah Khanfar?
Meanwhile, Khanfar’s absence has raised eyebrows at the Asia Media Summit in Malaysia. Khanfar – still listed as “Director General of the al-Jazeera Network” in the official programme – was nowhere to be seen.
The Iranian parliament has banned al-Jazeera correspondents from its premises after accusing the host of one of the channel’s talkshows of insulting Iraqi Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Bila Hudud (Without Borders) presenter Ahmed Mansour was said to have questioned al-Sistani’s leadership credentials.
Parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel said: “Parliament has decided to prevent al-Jazeera journalists from entering until this network makes a formal apology for insulting Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.”
“We consider this act as a plot of the enemies of Iraq. Al-Jazeera has insulted Ayatollah Sistani because it is well aware of his role in keeping Iraq united.”
After several Iraqi Shia rallies in Basra and Najaf, al-Jazeera editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Sheikh said: “There was no offence directed at al-Sistani and al-Jazeera doesn’t approve of offending anyone. We have the utmost respect and appreciation of all religious leaders, foremost of whom is al-Sistani.”