- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) - Iran’s Culture Minister says the government has ordered the closing 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 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, charging the campaign against the center is politically motivated.

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

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