[Marxism] Occupation regime shuts down Al Jazeerah as US escalates war

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Aug 7 09:00:37 MDT 2004

Iraqi Government Shuts Al-Jazeera Station

Published: August 7, 2004

Filed at 10:37 a.m. ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The Iraqi government closed the Iraqi offices of
the Arab television station Al-Jazeera for 30 days, accusing it Saturday
of inciting violence.

A spokesman for Al-Jazeera called the closure ``unwise'' and said it
restrained freedom of the press.

``It is a regrettable decision, but Al-Jazeera will endeavor to cover
the situation in Iraq as best as we can within the constraints,''
spokesman Jihad Ballout said
Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said the government convened an
independent commission a month ago to monitor Al-Jazeera's daily
coverage ``to see what kind of violence they are advocating, inciting
hatred and problems and racial tension.''

Based on the commission's finding, the National Security Committee
ordered the monthlong closure, Allawi said.

Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said the closure was intended to
give the station ``a chance to readjust their policy against Iraq.''

``They have been showing a lot of crimes and criminals on TV, and they
transfer a bad picture about Iraq and about Iraqis and encourage
criminals to increase their activities,'' he said.

``We want to protect our people.''

Senior U.S. officials also have criticized Al-Jazeera's coverage of the
Iraq war, calling the network an outlet for the al-Qaida terror network,
broadcasting videotapes and audiotapes purportedly from Osama bin Laden
or his aides. Al-Jazeera denied the allegations.

Al-Jazeera's Ballout said the network was not given a reason for the
closure. He said the closure inhibits the ``right of the Arab people
around the world to see a comprehensive picture about what's going on in
an important region like Iraq.''

During a July 25 interview with Al-Jazeera in Moscow, interim Iraqi
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari accused the channel of biased reporting
and implied its journalists could be barred from the country.

``We do not tolerate those who exploit the freedom of the media,''
Zebari said then. ``These channels have become channels for provocation
against the interest, security and safety of the Iraqi people and the
Iraqi government will not be lenient toward such behavior.''

Al-Jazeera occasionally has encountered problems with authorities in
other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan
and the former Iraqi regime. Unlike Arab state-run media, the station
often airs views of local opposition figures and their criticisms of
their countries' rulers. 

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