Germany bans Hezbollah's television station

Al-Manar calls ban an attack on press freedom


Germany's interior ministry has banned al-Manar satellite television, the mouthpiece of the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, a ministry spokesman said on Friday, in a move denounced by the station.

The station, which the United States designated a "terrorist organization" shortly before banning it in 2004, was also barred in France.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the ban was introduced because the channel did not promote international understanding and violated the German constitution.

In a statement posted on a website affiliated with Hezbollah, the managment denounced Germany's decision as a "blatant attack on press freedoms," calling it a "political decision without any legal validity that will not dissuade al-Manar from performing its professionlal duty."

The statement said the station has been the target of unjust American and "Zionist" policies and aserted that the ban violates international human rights and media laws, according to the statement posted on the website Promise (Wa3ad).

The ministry said the restrictions covered al-Manar advertisements, fund-raising for its studios and the reception of the satellite television station in hotels. Private homes will still be able to view the channel.

Al-Manar is Hezbollah's mouthpiece and played a major role in forcing an end to Israel's 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.

Hezbollah funds Al-Manar, its sister radio station Al-Nour and the parent company Lebanon Media Group.

(Translation from Arabic by Courtney C. Radsch)