(BAGHDAD) — Iraqis had fewer TV choices on Monday after the government ordered 10 satellite television channels to shut down.
Baghdad officials contend the stations have been active in stirring up trouble between Sunnis and Shiites as Iraq endured one of its worst weeks of sectarian violence in recent years with the death toll exceeding 200 people.
Virtually all but one of the channels ordered to stop broadcasting are Sunni Muslim, including Al Jazeera. However, Al Sharqiya had vowed to stay on even if it meant risking arrests.
Iraq has suspended broadcasts in the past when the situation in the country has become volatile, particularly during the U.S.-led occupation that ended 16 months ago.
The Iraqi government’s media regulatory body purportedly made the decision independent of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has made televised appeals for calm.
Sunni tribesmen have repeatedly clashed with the Iraqi military following a raid on an encampment in northern Iraq that left scores of people dead. Sunnis are more determined than ever to reject al-Maliki’s ongoing attempts at national reconciliation.
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Rafael Romo, CNN Newswire
James Griffiths and Shen Lu