Iraq suspends 10 satellite TV channels for promoting ‘sectarianism’

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Ten satellite television channels in Iraq have been suspended by the government for promoting sectarianism and violence, the country’s media watchdog said Sunday.

Among the channels, Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera has been blocked along with Sharqiya, a leading channel in Iraq.

"We took a decision to suspend the license of some satellite channels that adopted language encouraging violence and sectarianism," Mujahid Abu al-Hail of the Communications and Media Commission told AFP news agency.

"It means stopping their work in Iraq and their activities, so they cannot cover events in Iraq or move around," Hail said.

The move comes after a wave of violence that began on Tuesday with clashes between security forces and Sunni Arab protesters in northern Iraq that has killed a total of more than 215 people.

The violence is the deadliest so far linked to demonstrations that broke out in Sunni areas of the Shiite-majority country more than four months ago.

The Sunni protesters have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and railed against authorities for allegedly targeting their community, including what they say are wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

United Nations envoy Martin Kobler warned on Friday that Iraq is at a “crossroads,” calling for restraint as a wave of violence has killed more than 190 people in four days.

“I call on the conscience of all religious and political leaders not to let anger win over peace, and to use their wisdom, because the country is at a crossroads,” AFP reported Kobler as saying in a statement.

Kobler spoke a day after Maliki warned that the country was in danger of returning to “sectarian civil war.”

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