A television program, broadcast on Saturday by US-based Alhurra Iraq, sparked outrage in Iraq over its allegations about corruption at the Shiite and Sunni endowment institutions in the country. The program also raised questions about the huge funds managed by figures and institutions at shrines in Karbala.
Some figures said the campaign against Alhurra is part of the escalating conflict between Washington and Baghdad, explaining that some allies of Iran have exploited the dispute to stir incitement against the United States.
The US Embassy in Iraq distanced itself from the program in an attempt to contain the expected anger against it and the television’s office in Baghdad.
In a statement, the embassy affirmed that the US State Department and US embassies around the world have no supervising authority over the content of programs at Alhurra. It added that the channel tackles major issues in the region and US policies transparently and with impartiality out of keenness to present all points of views.
The Iraqi government has the right to respond and hold the channel accountable for any report that contains inaccurate information or that contradicts US policies, added the statement.
The parliamentary communication and media committee decried on Sunday the Alhurra report, which it said “targeted the religious institutions in Iraq in order to defame them.” It voiced its rejection of these “fabricated” claims, saying it will take the channel to court.
MP Wajih Abbas demanded that the committee shut down the channel for its “flagrant assault” against religious endowments. He noted that Alhurra does not act independently, but is officially funded by the State Department and therefore, follows its policies.
Press sources in the channel informed Asharq Al-Awsat that they are facing unprecedented pressure and are beginning to panic from the amount of incitement caused by some parties, even though the report was prepared in the Washington office.
Editor in chief of Al Alam Al Jadeed website Mounthadar Nasser told Asharq Al-Awsat that the report “contains many facts, but this does not deny that they were pointed at a certain direction and were selectively chosen. This harms the professionalism of the report and yet, does not justify the reaction by some politicians, deputies and bloggers, who all share the same affiliations.”