Iraq: Angry mob burns down TV headquarters for "insulting religion"

A crowd stormed and burned down Iraqi broadcaster Dijlah TV's headquarters in Baghdad on September 1, as protesters accused the station of broadcasting musical content on a religious day of mourning. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands in solidarity with the victimized media workers and urges the government to guarantee their safety. 

Demonstrators assaulting TV premises - video footage. Credits: Nafiseh Kohnavard

On Sunday 30 August, Shi'ites - the majority in Iraq - celebrated Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom in 680 of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, a founding event of Shi'ite Islam.

On the same day, Diljah TV aired its regular programming, including content featuring music and dancing. The broadcasts provoked the anger of dozens of demonstrators who considered it inappropriate and an "insult to religion."

Dijlah TV quickly apologized and claimed it was an unintentional error. However, several dozen demonstrators, angry at the festive program, assaulted the TV's premises the following day.


According to reports, the mob torched the office, injuring four media workers and destroying virtually all the bureau's equipment.

Warrant arrest against the TV director

In addition, a Baghdad court issued an arrest warrant against the station's director, Jamal al-Karbuli, accusing him of deliberately insulting religion, a charge which can be publishable with up to three years in prison under the Iraqi penal code.

It is not the first time that Diljah's TV offices have been attacked. In October 2019, armed masked men stormed the station's premises in Baghdad and burned them down. The IFJ condemned the incidents.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "Violence against media workers in Iraq is on the rise. It's the Iraqi government's responsibility to protect media workers and guarantee their safety".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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