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Iraq puts sanctions on Arabic-language networks

Governing Council: Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya promote violence

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two Arabic-language television networks have been barred from covering Iraq's Governing Council for the next two weeks, the council announced Tuesday.

The council banned Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from covering official activities and news conferences.

The council issued a statement in which it expressed "deep concern regarding the irresponsible activities in conduct and content of some media groups, notably the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya satellite channels, which constitute violation of criteria and regulations that should be adhered to by the media to allow them to continue working in Iraq.

"Reporters of those two channels will not be allowed to enter ministries and office buildings," for the two-week period, the statement said.

The orders were effective immediately. There was no immediate reaction from either network.

The statement was issued by Iyad Allawi, who is acting as the council's leader while council President Ahmed Chalabi is at the United Nations.

Al-Jazeera was founded in 1996 by the emir of Qatar. The station rose to worldwide prominence after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when it was first to broadcast video of Osama bin Laden.

Al-Arabiya has broadcast tapes reportedly from deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The station is based in the United Arab Emirates.

The council said the networks promoted political violence and the killing of members of the Governing Council and the coalition, and broadcast video of "terrorists terrorizing Iraqis."

Media regulations issued by the council include bans on:

• Inciting violence against groups, officials and individuals

• Promoting the return of the deposed Baath Party or issuing statements calling for Baathist representation

• Spreading sectarian, racial and religious sedition and strife

The council also said that "all residents (citizens and foreigners) must inform the authority of any information they attain concerning terrorist activities."

That includes "prior and post knowledge of any sabotage or criminal act or terrorist act or any act of violence that is meant to spread chaos and fear among the people of Iraq."

Entifadh Qanbar, Chalabi's spokesman, said the council's actions will "send a very clear message to the other stations" to heed the morals and laws of the country.


Qanbar said "we're not going to let Iraq become a staging ground" for network sensationalism.

"We're not going to let them get pictures of Americans getting torn apart, killed or burned, and other excitement, as Al-Jazeera does that.

"There is a value to human life. I don't think they can put masked people and tapes on the air. When there's an explosion, you always see Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera there like they've been informed beforehand.

"There is a great deal of suspicion about their activities. A lot of people are outraged by their activities because they've been promoting violence, they've been promoting division among Iraqis."

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