Iraq Suspends Al Jazeera For Promoting Violence and Sectarianism

April 29th, 2013 1:12 AM

Paging Al Gore!

Iraq on Sunday suspended the licenses of Al Jazeera and nine other satellite stations for promoting violence and sectarianism.

Al Jazeera reports:

"We took a decision to suspend the licence of some satellite channels that adopted language encouraging violence and sectarianism," Mujahid Abu al-Hail of the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) said on Sunday.

"It means stopping their work in Iraq and their activities, so they cannot cover events in Iraq or move around."

The CMC said it believes that "the rhetoric and substance coverage" by Baghdad, Al Sharqiyah, Al Sharqiyah News, Babylonian, Salah al-Din, Anwar 2, al Tagheer, Fallujah, Al Jazeera and Al Gharbiyah, all TV channels that operate in the region, were "provocative, misleading and exaggerated with the objective of disturbing the civil and democratic process".

Responding to the accusation, Al Jazeera said in a statement: "We are astonished by this development. We cover all sides of the stories in Iraq, and have done 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."

This comes as Iraq has experienced a surge in violence that has resulted in at least 215 deaths.

The New York Times elaborated:

In its statement, the media commission said the networks had broadcast “misinformation, hype and exaggeration” that had deepened sectarian divisions in Iraq. The statement specifically mentioned coverage last week of a raid by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in Hawija, a northern village near Kirkuk, which left nearly 50 people dead and more than 100 wounded, and set off revenge attacks against the army and the police and a call to arms by Sunni tribal leaders. Clashes between Sunni gunmen and security forces continued over the weekend.

The commission said that it had the authority to restrict news coverage it deemed was encouraging “hatred on the basis of national or ethnic or religious identities that can incite discrimination, hostility or violence.”