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Media Rights Groups Condemn Iraqi Al-Jazeera Ban

9 August 2004 -- Two international media rights groups are calling upon Iraq's interim government to lift a ban on the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera satellite television network.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the closure of Al-Jazeera office in Baghdad for one month "a serious blow to press freedom in Iraq."

CPJ's Mideast program coordinator, Joel Campagna, said that Iraqi officials should "engage channels that they disagree with rather than censor them."

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists called the temporary closure an act of "unacceptable and illogical censorship that casts a shadow over hopes for a new era of press freedom."

U.S. and Iraqi authorities have accused Qatar-based Al-Jazeera of inciting violence by broadcasting videotapes received from Muslim extremists.