Bahrain suspends newly launched Alarab news channel

Gulf kingdom orders closure of pan-Arab news channel launched last week after it aired interview with government critic.

Alarab news channel
Alarab was shut down on its first day after it interviewed Khalil al-Marzouq [AFP]

Bahrain has suspended a pan-Arab news channel that vowed to practise “objective” journalism, accusing it of not doing enough to combat “extremism”.

Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) said on Monday that it was taking the action against the Alarab news channel because it failed “to take account of efforts aimed at stemming the tide of extremism and terrorism.’

“It has been decided to halt the activities of Alarab,” a statement from the IAA said.

Alarab was taken off air on its first day of broadcasting on February 1 after it ran an interview with a Bahraini Shia opposition politician.

The interview sparked criticism in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, with pro-government daily Akhbar al Khaleej saying the channel was taken off the air for “not adhering to the norms prevalent in Gulf countries”.

Jamal Khashoggi, Alarab’s general manager, could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Owned by the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Alarab was only on air for a few hours after it interviewed Khalil al-Marzouq, a government critic and member of Bahrain’s Shia opposition Al-Wefaq party.

Sheikh Ali Salman, Al-Wefaq’s leader, has been detained since December on charges of promoting regime change by force, a charge he denies.

Bahrain has faced sporadic unrest since authorities quelled the 2011 protests against the monarchy with support from other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Shias, who make up the majority of Bahrain’s population, complain of political and economic marginalisation, an accusation the government denies.

Source: News Agencies