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Iraq suspends TV satire show for ‘insulting’ military

By AFP - Apr 05,2022 - Last updated at Apr 05,2022

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s media regulator on Tuesday announced the suspension of a satire television show for insulting the military, after it aired an episode criticising alleged corruption in the armed forces.

UTV network, owned by the son of renowned Sunni Muslim politician Khamis Al Khanjar, had on Monday broadcast an episode of the “With Mulla Talal” programme that poked fun at the alleged corruption.

The Communications and Media Commission responded by suspending the programme, saying the episode was considered “a clear insult to the Iraqi army and all its members”.

It also called for the removal of any versions of the offending segment from the channel’s social media pages and elsewhere online.

The authority said the show “poses a threat to sectors of the Iraqi army and its cohesion in the field, particularly as it continues to fight the terrorist gangs” of the Daesh group.

In Monday’s episode, programme host Ahmed Mulla Talal had a 10-minute interview with actor Iyad Al Ta’i, dressed as a general.

During the exchange, the pair joked about the alleged sale of top posts in the military, as well as the misappropriation of funds.

In a statement, the defence ministry complained that the show “harms the reputation of the entire Iraqi army and erases all their sacrifices”.

But the programme’s host has refused to apologise.

“We have moved from the stage of corruption and failure to that of corruption, failure, muzzling and dictatorship, and what is coming is worse,” Talal wrote on Facebook.

“I will not apologise for revealing part of the truth and I will not apologise to the corrupt.”

Iraq’s state institutions and officials have long been accused of corruption — a grievance that contributed to the eruption of mass protests across the country in 2019.

Iraq has consistently been a low scorer on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, ranking 157th out of 180 countries for perceived corruption levels in state institutions in 2021.

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