The Iraqi Government has revoked the operating licences of Al Jazeera and nine other satellite television channels for, it claims, inciting sectarian unrest. Among the other channels affected are the Dubai-based al-Sharqiya and al-Sharqiya News, and Baghdad TV. “We are astonished by this development,” said a statement from Al Jazeera. “We cover all sides of […]
Among the other channels affected are the Dubai-based al-Sharqiya and al-Sharqiya News, and Baghdad TV.
“We are astonished by this development,” said a statement from Al Jazeera. “We cover all sides of the stories in Iraq, and have done so for many years. The fact that so many channels have been hit all at once, though, suggests this is an indiscriminate decision. We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the important stories taking place in Iraq.”
Local channels Salahuddin, Fallujah, Taghyeer, Babiliya, and al-Gharbiya are the other channels which had their licences revoked on 28 April.
Iraq’s media commission, meanwhile, said the channels had broadcast “misinformation, hype and exaggeration” and deepened sectarian divisions in the country. It had the power, it said, to restrict news that it believed was encouraging “hatred on the basis of national or ethnic or religious identities that can incite discrimination, hostility or violence.”
The Media Commission says it holds the stations responsible for promoting “banned terrorist organisations who committed crimes against Iraqi people”.
The Government is unable to prevent the satellite broadcasts of those networks, like Al Jazeera, which are based abroad. However, the move means their journalists are no longer welcome to report from Iraqi soil.