The Iraqi authorities have suspended the broadcast licences of Al-Jazeera and nine other TV channels. Al-Jazeera has been told to stop all its operations and activities in the country.
The Iraqi Information and Media Commission justified the decision by referring to what it called “biased media coverage for the incidents at Hawija”, near Karkuk, where anti-government protests have been taking place recently.
According to the authorities, media coverage by the now-banned channels contributed to the escalation of the protests due to it being “misleading and exaggerated”. Such “bias”, claims the Commission, has taken place “repeatedly”.
Apart from Al-Jazeera, the suspended channels are: Baghdad, Al-Sharqiyyah, Al-Sharqiyyah News, Al-Babiliyyah, Salah Al-Din, Al-Anwar 2, Al-Taghyeer, Al-Fallojah and Al-Gharbiyyah.
The suspension of the broadcast licences means that staff of the channels concerned are forbidden from covering any incidents anywhere in Iraq, said Mujahed Abul-Hail, Director of Audio and Visual Affairs at the Information and Media Commission.
Iraq has witnessed a wave of violence since last Tuesday, when government security forces killed 50 people taking part in a protest in Hawija against Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.