Iraq suspends Al-Jazeera, 9 other satellite TV channels for 'sectarianism'

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq suspended the licences of 10 satellite television channels, including Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, for promoting violence and sectarianism, a senior official at the country's media watchdog said on Sunday.

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

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

The suspended channels included pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera and Sharqiya, a leading channel in Iraq.

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 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 the authorities for allegedly targeting their community, including what they say are wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

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