- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

TEHRAN Iran’s culture minister says the government has ordered the closing of the independent Iranian House of Cinema. Artists say political reasons are behind the decision.

Mohammed Hosseini says his ministry determined that the film promotion institute lacked a legal basis for operations. His comments were reported by the official IRNA news agency on Wednesday.

The Iranian House of Cinema is an independent body that has operated for 20 years. Recently, it threatened to boycott the state-organized annual Fajr International Film Festival, Iran’s most important cinematic event, over threats to close the House of Cinema, charging the campaign against the center is politically motivated.

Hard-liners have repeatedly criticized the House of Cinema for adopting liberal stands contrary to government cultural policies.