Iraq shuts Al-Jazeera bureau for ‘instigating violence’


The Iraqi authorities have shut down the Al-Jazeera channel’s Baghdad office, accusing Qatar’s state-funded TV network of inciting violence and sectarianism.

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) sent the Al-Jazeera Media Network a letter informing it of a March 24 decision to withdraw the bureau’s licence and close its office for one year.

The letter cited “your continuing violations and offences and persistent media discourse instigating violence and sectarianism.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Doha-based news network, one of the largest in the region, said that it had not violated regulations or deviated from professional and objective coverage.

Al-Jazeera has repeatedly come under fire from the Iraqi authorities for coverage perceived as too friendly to the Islamic State militant group and hostile to the country’s Shia majority.

The network’s foreign staff were already unable to enter Iraq because the authorities had made it difficult for them to obtain visas, the network’s Iraqi bureau chief Walid Ibrahim told AFP.

The CMC’s decision contradicts the Iraqi government’s “commitment to guarantee freedom of expression”, Al-Jazeera said.