Monday, January 1, 2007

Celebrate Press Freedom In Iraq

Iraq bans TV station for 'inciting sectarian violence' (that means speaking against the puppets)

"BAGHDAD (AFP) - The Iraqi government said it has banned private television channel Al-Sharkiya from reporting in Baghdad after accusing the station of inciting sectarian violence.

"The channel has been ordered to stop work in Baghdad forever," said interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf on Monday.

Khalaf said the ministry had told all television channels to take care reporting on violence so as not to "incite sectarian violence and hatred."

"But Al-Sharkiya continued working in this direction," he added.

A senior employee at the Dubai-based channel confirmed the ban in the Iraqi capital, now engulfed in sectarian warfare between Shiite and Sunni extremists, although it was not immediately clear whether the station could continue reporting from elsewhere in the country.

"This decision has been taken by the minister himself," the employee said on condition of anonymity.

"It is the first time that our office is closed by the interior ministry," he said, although the channel had received several notices earlier to curb its reporting of violence in Iraq.

Al-Sharqiya is owned by an Iraqi Sunni, Saad al-Bazzaz, who also publishes Azzaman, a well-regarded newspaper.

Bazzaz was a senior information ministry official under the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein but moved to London in the mid 1990s after falling out with the government.

Iraq banned two television channels, Al-Zawra and Salaheddin, in November for their "one-sided" coverage of Saddam's trial for crimes against humanity during which he received the death penalty.

The government had also earlier banned pan-Arab station Al-Arabiya for a month in September and has permanently banned its better known Arabic-language rival, Al-Jazeera, from reporting in Iraq."

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