Middle East

Egypt blocks three Iraqi TV stations

BBC journalists and staff, some with black tape over their mouths to illustrate the silencing of free speech and journalists around the world, hold a minute of silence in support of the jailed journalists in Egypt, outside the BBC headquarters in central London, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

CAIRO: Egypt has barred three private Iraqi TV stations from its main satellite system, the broadcasting regulator said Tuesday, after Baghdad complained that their coverage was stoking sectarian tensions.

The news came a day after Egypt jailed three Al-Jazeera journalists on charges of aiding the outlawed Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization, a ruling condemned around the world as a blow to press freedom.

Al-Baghdadiya, Al-Rafidain and Al-Hadath TV stations were all barred from the state-owned Nilesat, which broadcasts across the Middle East and North Africa, the head of Egypt’s broadcasting regulator Free Zone said.

The three channels have been off the air in Iraq and Egypt since last week. They often took a pro-Sunni, anti-Iraqi government line that appeals to the country’s Sunni minority, although Al-Baghdadiya in particular had investigative programming that attracted a broader segment of the population.

The channels have covered the onslaught by Sunni insurgent group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria extensively.

An official at Free Zone, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision was linked to complaints from Iraq.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 25, 2014, on page 10.




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