News

November 30, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Al-Baghdadia TV announces it is pulling out of Iraq for good


Al-Baghdadia, an Iraqi satellite TV station that has its headquarters in Cairo, has announced that it is ending all activities in Iraq as a result of a decision by the Iraqi government’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) on 1 November to suspend the operations of all its bureaux. “In view of the prime minister’s persistent determination in preventing Al-Baghdadia from working in Iraq, the station’s management has decided to close its bureaux in country,” Al-Baghdadia said in a 25 November statement posted on its website (http://www.albaghdadia.com/n/iraq-polotics/21145-2010-11-25-18-04-36.html). The CMC accused Al-Baghdadia of breaking the law by serving as a “mouthpiece for the terrorists” when armed militants stormed the Christian church of Sayidat al-Najat in Baghdad on 31 October and took hostages. The occupation ended in bloodbath. The station had appealed against the closures. “We were on the point of reaching an agreement with the CMC,” the head of the station, Abdel Hamid As-Saeh, told AFP. “But then we learned that that the decision was not up to the commission and that it was the prime minister’s office directly that had the final word.” Reporters Without Borders deplores the closure of the station’s bureaux, in which the government clearly used the CMC to get it what it wanted. We urge Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to take a public position on Al-Baghdadia and to find a solution to this problem. Although based in Egypt, Al-Baghdadia is an independent, privately-owned Iraqi TV station that was launched in September 2005. Its website: http://www.albaghdadia.com/ ----- 2 November 2010 - Al-Baghdadia TV bureaux closed, two employees arrested Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s decision by the Iraqi authorities to close the Baghdad, Kerbala and Basra bureaux of Cairo-based satellite TV station Al-Baghdadia in connection with its coverage of the previous day’s hostage-taking in a Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad, which ended in a bloodbath. Two of the station’s employees, producer Haidar Salam and video editor Mohammed Al-Johair, were arrested under article 1/2/4 of the anti-terrorism law. Al-Johair was released today, after being held overnight, but Salam is still being held in an unknown location, Reporters Without Borders has learned from Al-Baghdadia representatives in Egypt. “This decision by the authorities was hasty and disproportionate,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Before closing this TV station, there should have been an impartial investigation to establish to what degree the activities of its journalists influenced the outcome of the hostage-taking.” The press freedom organisation added: “The authorities are making a mistake by targeting Al-Baghdadia. The station must nonetheless determine whether mistakes were made in its coverage of this tragedy. We call for the reopening of its bureaux and Salam’s release pending the result of the investigation.” The Syriac Catholic church of Sayidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) was stormed by members of Islamic State of Iraq, a local Al-Qaeda branch, as about hundred of people were attending mass on 31 October. While holding their hostages, the militants spoke with Al-Baghdadia by telephone and were able to voice their demands on the air. A total of 54 worshippers (including many women and children) and seven guards were killed in the course of the assault, which was one of the deadliest attacks ever on Christians in Iraq. Despite being headquartered in Cairo, privately-owned Al-Baghdadia is an Iraqi TV station. It was launched in September 2005. Its website: http://www.albaghdadia.com/