Iraq Suspends Order to Close 44 Media Outlets
Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) suspended orders to close 44 media outlets Tuesday, after backlash from press freedom organizations. The commission denied that its previous order to suspend media operations was motivated by a crackdown on free press. The CMC will give the targeted organizations more time to pay outstanding fees and renew lapsed licenses, deputy director Ali Nasir said. However, director of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, Ziyad al-Aajely, said media licensing is still too difficult and fees are too high. According to the Washington Post, the group had previously accused Prime Mininster Nouri al-Maliki’s government of trying to silence critics.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Shi’i Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that despite pressure from Iran and other Shiite religious leaders, he would not back down from seeking to oust al-Maliki. Joining Sunni and Kurdish officials in opposition to the Shi’i prime minister, in what is the first major Shiite defection against the premier, al-Sadr accused al-Maliki’s government of keeping Iraq’s minorities away from power and failing to fix legal systems and other public services. The cleric is adamant about the need for government reform and said,”If the head is reformed, everything beyond it is reformed.”