(Adds new comments from Al-Baghdadia channel)
CAIRO, June 24 Egypt has barred three private
Iraqi TV stations from its main satellite system, the
broadcasting regulator said on Tuesday, after Baghdad complained
that their coverage was stoking sectarian tensions.
The news came a day after Egypt jailed three Al Jazeera
journalists on charges of aiding the outlawed Islamist Muslim
Brotherhood organisation, a ruling condemned around the world as
a blow to press freedom.
Al-Baghdadia, Al-Rafidain and Al-Hadath TV stations were all
barred from the state-owned Nilesat, which broadcasts across the
Middle East and North Africa, the head of Egypt's broadcasting
regulator Free Zone said.
The three channels have been off the air in Iraq and Egypt
since last week. They often took a pro-Sunni, anti-Iraqi
government line that appeals to the country's Sunni minority,
although al-Baghdadiya in particular had investigative
programming that attracted a broader segment of the population.
The channels have covered the onslaught by Sunni insurgent
group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant extensively and
carried statements from the al Qaeda offshoot.
An official at Free Zone, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the decision to block the channels was linked to
complaints from Iraq.
The regulator's head, Abdel Moneim Al-Alfy, said:
"Al-Baghdadia and Al-Rafidain channels were taken off Nilesat
for violating their contracts with the Free Zone authority
regarding their content." He did not directly link the decision
to Iraq's complaints.
"We have received complaints from the Iraqi government about
the channels' contents and are investigating them now, that is
all I could say so far," Al-Alfy said.
He said Al-Hadath's permit had expired.
Al-Baghdadia confirmed it was now banned in Iraq and Egypt
while Al-Hadath's CEO Ayman Khalid said his channel's closure
was temporary and over a financial dispute with Free Zone.
Al-Rafidain could not be reached for comment.
"The channel condemns the terroristic actions committed by
what it is being called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant
and had criticised its statements and praised and supported the
armed forces to stand against it," Al-Baghdadia said in a
statement clarifying its position on the Iraqi conflict.
Egypt has shut down a number of pro-Islamist channels since
the army's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year.
On Monday it triggered an international outcry by jailing
three journalists from Qatar-backed Al Jazeera television,
accusing them of aiding Egypt's outlawed Islamist Muslim
(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty and Yasmine Saleh in Cairo and
Alexander Dziadosz in Iraq; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by