Iraq Bans Al Jazeera, Nine Other TV Channels

Al-Jazeera Newsroom 2011

Authorities allege the broadcasters are "promoting a sectarian agenda," which is fanning the flames of recent violence.

Iraqi authorities have banned Al Jazeera and nine other satellite TV channels from broadcasting in the country, claiming that their programming espouses a "sectarian agenda" that is fanning the flames of a recent explosion of violence. 

Qatar-based Al Jazeera says it was shocked by the sudden revocation of its broadcasting license. "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," the news network said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press in Baghdad. "We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the important stories taking place in Iraq."

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The other nine regional channels that were blocked out  by Iraq's communications and media commission include al-Sharqiya and al-Sharqiya News, regular critics of the government, and smaller local channels -- Salahuddin, Fallujah, Taghyeer, Baghdad, Babiliya, Anwar 2 and al-Gharbiya.

In a statement posted to its website, Iraq's media commission criticized the channels for making "clear calls for disorder and for launching retaliatory criminal attacks against security forces." It also said the stations have made misleading reports and promoted "banned terrorist organizations who committed crimes against Iraqi people."

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More than 180 people have been killed in gunfights between Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority and Shia-led government forces since the sectarian unrest ignited last Tuesday, according to the AP.