The National Communications and Media Commission of Iraq decided, Monday, to suspend the work of the offices of the US-based Alhurra TV channel for three months following the broadcast of an investigation into the corruption of religious institutions in the country. The commission called on the channel to submit an official apology and guarantee "non-repetition of its abuses."
"The work license of Alhurra's offices in Iraq and its activities have been suspended for three months until it reconsiders its position on dealing with the Iraqi matters," the Commission said in a statement published by Iraqi websites.
The Commission called the channel administration office in Iraq to "air an official apology as the programme caused contempt and offended the symbols and personalities of religious institutions, whose reputation and status have been damaged among the Iraqi people by the channel " and "to pledge to abide by the list of media broadcasting rules."
The statement considered "these actions as a final warning to the channel and more severe measures will be taken in the event of a repetition of the abuse and the breach of the list of media broadcasting rules," with "maintaining the right to file a judicial complaint by the affected parties and personalities."
The statement added that "the content of the program was aimed at showing corruption in the religious institutions in Iraq, and its allegations caused angry reactions by the Iraqi public and official opinion, as it has prejudiced the status of a party that is highly esteemed and appreciated by the Iraqi people, represented by the status and reputation of the religious institution."
On Saturday, Alhurra aired, as part of "Alhurra Investigates" programme, an investigation about corruption in religious institutions in Iraq under the title of "The Holy Persons of Sacred Corruption in Iraq". The channel showed corruption accusations against the head of the Sunni Endowment, Abdul Latif Al-Humim, the Sunni Grand Mufti of Iraq, Sheikh Mahdi Al-Sumaidaie, the holy thresholds, and representatives of religious reference.
The US Embassy in Baghdad commented on the anger the investigation has caused in Iraqi circles, stressing that "the US State Department has no control over the content of the channel, which deals transparently and impartially with important issues in the region and US policies, while making sure to present all points of views regarding its viewers' issues of concern."
"The Iraqi government has the right to appeal and hold Alhurra Iraq accountable for any report it considers as containing inaccurate or unprofessional information or contrary to US policies."
Earlier on Monday, the Office of the Sunni Endowment, announced its intention to sue Alhurra Iraq TV channel, indicating that the investigation included "offences that were beyond intention, misrepresentation and falsification of the facts with an exposed scenario aimed at political exploitation and bad intent anyway, in a way that harms the religious and national institution and its symbols in Iraq, with overall false claims containing a lot of prejudice and unfairness."
The Shiite Popular Mobilisation accused the congressional channel of targeting Iraq, its people, state and beliefs, affirming its support for "any action that would be taken by the government and the concerned state institutions that would put an end to these violations and hold accountable the negligent individuals, parties, or countries.