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Iraqi Journalists Battle to Report Freely

  • Scott Bobb

Transcript of video:
Journalists in Iraq face more and more obstacles to their reporting, according to media activists. Nevertheless, some media outlets continue to fight for a free and unbiased press.

Live from a studio at al-Baghdadia TV, Murtada Mohamed Ali is reporting on how journalists are being prevented from covering a Baghdad cultural festival.

Al-Baghdadia focuses a great deal on political events, such as upcoming local elections and corruption. Manager Mohamed Hanoon Kareem says that, as a result, the station has been shut down twice in the past three years.

“Many on our staff have been arrested and harassed by security forces," he says. "And sometimes when something happens, like an explosion, they won't let us cover it. Then sometimes they let us because it is not important to them.”

Ziad al-Ajili heads the media watchdog, Journalistic Freedoms Observatory. He says journalists now must obtain numerous permissions to cover even routine events.

“We publish a report on media freedom every year," he says. "This year's is the worst ever. The government has made new rules to pressure journalists and prevent us from working freely, especially the foreign media.”

Journalists face harassment by security forces as seen in this video by an Iraqi reporter who filmed himself being beaten while saying repeatedly that he was a journalist.

Activists say more than 140 journalists have been killed in Iraq in the past 10 years, one of the highest casualty rates in the world.

Dibras al-Ma'mouri founded the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum. She says female Iraqi reporters face even more challenges, from security forces as well as from colleagues.

“In Iraqi society they look at women as a lowly thing, not a working human being," she says. "They harass them. They try to prevent them from working. They think the woman was made just for housework and nothing else.”

Kareem of Baghdadia-TV says objective reporting by Iraq's journalists is also rare.

“About 90 percent of Iraqi journalists follow some ideological, political or sectarian opinion," he says. "A few are working objectively. They are the ones who face problems with the government.”

Media activists say laws are needed to allow journalists to work freely in Iraq and to protect them.

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