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IFJ welcomes lifting of ban on newspaper

(IFJ/IFEX) - 23 June 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today welcomed the decision to lift the ban on the Arabic version of the Gulf News newspaper after the authorities stopped its publication on Sunday 21 June 2009.

"We welcome the lifting of the ban which was a serious violation of press freedom," said Paco Audije, IFJ Deputy General Secretary. "It is not for governments to tell newspapers what to publish and this type of vindictive reaction to media work is unacceptable."

According to media reports, the decision to ban the publication of the Gulf News Arabic version followed an article in its Saturday paper which criticised the Iranian leadership for their reaction to massive demonstrations triggered by the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad.

The Bahrain Journalists' Association (BJA), an IFJ affiliate, condemned the decision to stop the Sunday publication. It also accused the Ministry of Information of breaching the press law in Bahrain by issuing the ban itself without first seeking approval of a judge as required by the law.

"Our colleagues showed leadership by resisting the decision and we commend them," added Audije. "Media in Bahrain have recently committed themselves to improving their professional and independent reporting through the launch of the national Ethical Journalism Initiative Committee in Bahrain. The EJI committee was established to lead national debates on improving the quality of journalism in the country."

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