BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government ordered 10 predominantly Sunni Muslim satellite television channels to cease broadcasting Sunday, accusing them of encouraging the sectarian unrest that left more than 200 people dead in a week of violence in northern Iraq.
The stations included the pan-Arab news channel Al-Jazeera and well-known local satellite stations. The move reflected the elevated tensions in the country since fighting erupted last week between Shiite Muslim-led security forces and Sunni Arab protesters, raising fears of a new civil war like the one that erupted from 2005 to 2008, when U.S. troops were still in the country.
The ban was announced on state television and letters of notification were delivered to the television companies. It was not the first time the Iraqi government has shut the offices of satellite channels, including Al-Jazeera and a well-known local station, Al-Sharqiya. Similar closures occurred during the American occupation.