Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Iraqi government has accused Al Jazeera satellite channel of “contributing to the spread of death and destruction” through its news coverage of the events in Iraq. This comes two years following the closure of the channel’s office in Baghdad.
In a statement, the Iraqi cabinet said that, “Al Jazeera channel continues to adopt a clear and blatant hostile position towards the Iraqi public, contributing to the spread of death and destruction on Iraq’s noble land through its adoption of an antagonistic project that is obviously against Iraq and its people.
Al Jazeera described the Iraqi cabinet’s statement as “without justification or basis.”
Ahmed al Sheikh, the editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera television said, “What have we done… Nothing.” He sees that, “the Iraqi government is searching for a scapegoat to justify its failure to achieve security and stability for the Iraqi people,” according to Reuters news agency. The Iraqi government had banned al Jazeera channel from operating in Iraq two years ago despite the fact that the English service of the channel has an office in Baghdad and continues to broadcast from the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.
The Iraqi government believes that, “Al Jazeera channel aired programs through which it tried to spread confusion and distort the facts, in addition to diverting international public opinion away from the catastrophic crimes committed by the death squads and the rampant destruction and organized terrorism on Iraqi land.” The ministerial statement added, “we invite the representatives of the Iraqi people in the House of Representatives to take a firm and clear stand against the channel, and to use legal ways to persecute and deter it away from its approach that is hostile to the aspirations and expectations of Iraq’s people and its national government.”
The Iraqi government did offer an explanation for this new criticism; however an official from the ruling Shiaa coalition said that a talk show, which was broadcast the day before last, criticized the government and the Shiaa parties.
An Iraqi media official had issued a request to the parliament to take a ‘clear and decisive’ stance towards the Qatari satellite channel, accusing Al Jazeera of airing “discrimination and outright animosity, also propagating confusion and distorting the facts.”
According to the head of the national media center of the cabinet’s secretariat, “Al Jazeera adopts a blatantly antagonistic position against Iraq’s people and is a tool for spreading discord among the sons of one nation. It is a means of [spreading] killing, death and destruction,” as related by Agence France-Press (AFP).