Monday, August 02, 2004

Iraqi Media Controls on the Horizon


Just days after receiving praise for allowing a paper banned by the former American occupation chief to reopen, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is moving to impose content restrictions on Iraqi media outlets. Allawi has reportedly established a committee to draw up restrictions called "red lines" that will apply to print and broadcast media. These include restrictions on the printing or broadcasting of unwarranted criticism of the prime minister himself.

Ibrahim Janabi, head of Iraq’s new Higher Media Commission, a body similar to the US’s Federal Communications Commission, singled out last Friday’s sermon by rebel Shi’ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who referred to Allawi as America’s "tail." According to Janabi, under the new content codes, outlets that broadcast such statements could be banned.

Last March, Paul Bremer, the former US administrator of Iraq, shut down Al-Sadr’s small newspaper in Baghdad -- an act that reportedly prompted the cleric to begin mobilizing his forces against US-led occupation troops. Allawi recently allowed the paper to begin republishing. Last year, Bremer also imposed sanctions on Arab TV networks Aljazeera and Al-Arabiya, banning them from official coalition media events for several weeks at a time.

This is the complete text of the article.

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