Iraq watchdog suspends 10 TV channels for inciting violence

BAGHDAD Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:19am EDT

A security guard walks outside the Al Jazeera building in Baghdad April 28, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen

A security guard walks outside the Al Jazeera building in Baghdad April 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Ameen

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has suspended the licenses of satellite news network Al Jazeera and nine other channels, accusing them of inciting violence through their coverage of recent sectarian clashes.

The Communication and Media Commission (CMC) regulator criticized their reporting of violence triggered by a security forces raid on a Sunni Muslim protest camp in Hawija on Tuesday.

None of the channels was immediately available for comment.

More than 170 people have been killed in the fighting - the worst Iraq has seen since Sunnis started staging protests in December to complain about their treatment by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.

The watchdog said sectarian language used in the reports encouraged "criminal acts of revenge by attacking the security forces".

"The CMC sees in the speech and content propagated by the incitement and escalation which leans towards misleading and exaggeration more than towards objectivity," the watchdog said in a statement published on Sunday.

Most of the channels, including local stations such as "Baghdad" and "al-Sharqiya", are pro-Sunni and often critical of the Shi'ite-led government. Al Jazeera is based in Qatar, a Sunni-ruled kingdom.

The watchdog is powerless to stop the channels broadcasting, but may make it harder for their local staff to cover events.

Media rights group the Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory said the CMC was biased, as some officials in the body had been appointed by the government.

"We do not deny there is an incitement to violence by some media outlets, but we consider the suspension of licenses of 10 satellite channels a blow for democracy," the Observatory's Executive Director Ziyad al-Ajili told Reuters.

Last June, the CMC ordered the closure of 44 media outlets including the BBC and Voice of America. It does not have the power to stop them broadcasting from overseas.

Violence, including bomb attacks that have killed dozens of people at a time, has increased across Iraq this year. Provisional figures from rights group Iraq Body Count indicate about 1,365 people have been killed so far in 2013.

(Reporting by Aseel Kami; Editing by Isabel Coles and Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (8)
The_Traveler wrote:
I always wondered where all those “Leave it to Beaver” rerun went …

Apr 28, 2013 10:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
simian wrote:
they can watch the flinstones and dream of the glory days of islam.

Apr 28, 2013 11:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
moweddell wrote:
The historian Santana once wrote: “Those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it”. This saying is true today and applies to the “Arab Spring”. These Islamic – Muslim countries have been ruled by kings, dictators, or fanatical religious clerical theaocracies for ceturies. Today, the UN in a 2002 survey showed, with only three exceptions, a illeteracy rate between 40% -70% in these countries. The same percentage applies to unemployment. Those who are literate are indoctrinated with religious dogma. They complain, rebel, cause chaos, civil war, and terrorism. After each rebellion they always fall back on their religion and the cycle starts all over again, only this time a new group is in charge and they begin, in the name of Jihad, murdering Jews, Christians, educated women and children,other religious sects, and any neighbor perceived not to have supported their cause and thus they are right back where they started.They are their own worst enemy and anyone supporting either side excercises stupidity. The only ultimate resolution to this generational problem is to change their misguided religion. This has been tried before, refer as far back as the crusades, without success.
They must be isolated and one day they as a nation they must decide to join democracies, or civilizad nations, and choose between bullets and bread. In the meantime stay out of the frey, do not take sides because each hates everyone outside of their religion, until the dust finally settles.

Apr 28, 2013 11:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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