Dozens of Iraqi journalists blacklisted on social networks
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed by a message circulating for the past four days on social networks in Iraq that accuses 12 journalists and human rights defenders of “wanting to normalize relations with Israel.” By threatening to reveal their personal details, it poses a real danger to their safety. RSF condemns this cyber-harassment and calls on the Iraqi authorities to take whatever measures are necessary to find those responsible and to protect all of the targeted journalists.
Circulated via anonymous accounts since 2 September, the message names 12 journalists and bloggers – including analysts working for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, (IWPR), an NGO that is partly US-funded – and two Facebook pages, Iraq Eye et Clean Brothers. As well as wanting normal relations with Israel, they are accused of working “only for money.”
The persons named in this message are Omar Al-Shaher (journalist), Ali Wajeeh (journalist), Jumana Mumtaz (journalist), Husham Al-Hashimi (analyst), Ahmad Falah (satirist), Saqar Al-Zakaria (blogger), Shojaa Al-Khafaji (blogger), Hussein Ali (blogger), Steven Nabil (blogger), Ridha Al-Shamari (journalist), Mustafa Al-Sofi (blogger) and Omar Mohammed (blogger).
According to Iraq’s Journalistic Freedom Observatory, a separate message posted on another Facebook account has a different list of journalists accused of working for Israel. It gives their personal addresses and urges the account’s followers to add other names to the list.
“We call on the Iraqi authorities to provide protection to these journalists and bloggers designated as Iraq’s enemies,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The dissemination of their names and photos exposes them to danger and should be taken very seriously.”
In a letter to the prime minister, one of the targeted journalists, Ali Wajeeh, wondered whether there was a "directive" coming from the ruling body to call for the death of these journalists and asked him to "clearly claim" the threats or "condemn" them in the opposite case.
The message began circulating the same day that the government closed down the Iraqi operations of the US-funded satellite TV channel Al Hurra for broadcasting a report about corruption within Iraq’s religious institutions.
Iraq is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.