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Iraq parliament bans media from sessions in bid to quell public disagreements

[JURIST] The Iraqi Parliament [official website, in Arabic] Monday indefinitely barred journalists from sessions of parliament as part of efforts by Iraq's National Security Council [FAS backgrounder] to stop contradictory statements made by Iraqi politicians, according to Reuters. Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashadani told members of parliament that reporters should be banned from parliament sessions because the media "may increase tension," and ordered cameras producing televised access to floor debate turned off. A spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic] added that the decision by the National Security Council to bar journalists from access to parliament sessions was designed to "make sure people speak with one voice to the media."

The decision was made after conflicting media accounts of recent sectarian violence and political reactions to that. Last week President Jalal Talabani [official website] blamed the media for Thursday's killing of over 200 people in Baghdad's Shiite-dominated Sadr City [CNN report], saying that the attacks occurred because of the media's portrayal of attacks on a Sunni neighborhood earlier that day. Reuters has more. Iraqi independent news agency Voices of Iraq quoted al-Mashadani as saying [VOI report] Monday that "a recommendation was made at the Political Council of National Security as to accelerating an agreeable legal formula to deal with corrupted media men as well as dealing with the good journalists" and that "directives were given to lawmakers to reduce and even to avoid making statements before and after a parliament session."

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