The Unhealthy State of Iraqi Politics and Democratic Development
Shutting down media that the government doesn't like is unlikely to solve the sectarian problems in Iraq.
Via the BBC: Iraq Sunni unrest prompts TV channel licence suspension.
First, sectarian divisions continue to plague the land:
More than 170 people have been killed in less than a week and PM Nouri Maliki has spoken of a “wave of sectarianism” in Iraq that began abroad.
An army raid on a Sunni protest camp on Tuesday sparked widespread clashes.
More than 20 people died at the camp, in the northern town of Hawija, near Kirkuk, prompting two Sunni ministers to announce their resignation. Demonstrations spread to Ramadi and Falluja in western Iraq as well as towns and cities elsewhere in the north.
The protesters accused the Shia-led government of discriminating against Sunnis and demanded the resignation of Mr Maliki, himself a Shia.
Second, the response of the government? Controlling information:
Al-Jazeera TV and Sharqiya are among the channels accused of “inciting violence”. A ban has been imposed on their operations across Iraq.
The Iraqi Communication and Media Commission said in a statement that the satellite channels had “exaggerated things, given misinformation and called for breaking the law and attacking Iraqi security forces”.
The watchdog complained of a “sectarian tone” in the TV coverage and said “undisciplined media messages exceeded all reasonable limits” and threatened to “jeopardise the democratic process”.
Because, of course, nothing says “democratic process” like shutting down news coverage that the government doesn’t like.
BBC Baghdad correspondent Rafid Jaboori says most of the 10 channels are Sunni-owned while Qatar-based al-Jazeera is perceived as more pro-Sunni in its Arabic-language reporting in Iraq.
The head of al-Jazeera’s Baghdad bureau, Omar Abul-ilah, told BBC News that it was not yet clear whether or not the suspension covered its English-language operations as well as its Arabic programming.
The director of Baghdad TV, which is owned by the Iraqi Islamic party, told the BBC that he was waiting to hear from the authorities what action would be taken.