Special Report

Iraqi authorities intensify clampdown on media outlets amid unrest

Bassem al-Sheikh, editor of Iraq's Al-Dustour newspaper.
Bassem al-Sheikh, editor of Iraq's Al-Dustour newspaper. Screengrab, FRANCE 24

In Iraq, where protesters have staged more than two months of unrelenting demonstrations demanding reform from an entrenched ruling elite, journalists faced with media shutdowns in response are putting on a defiant show of force.


More than 400 people have lost their lives in anti-government demonstrations in Iraq, mostly young unarmed protesters, since they broke out on October 1 in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite south. Anger over poor public services, lacking employment opportunities and corruption has given rise to the largest grassroots movement the country has seen in decades.

As the deadly unrest continues, Iraqi authorities have taken to shutting down media outlets they claim are aiding the protest movement. Charged with inciting mass protests, media outlets under threat aren’t taking the existential challenge quietly.

“Gagging and preventing media organisations from performing their role means that there is an imbalance in the democratic process, and that there is an intent to try to obscure facts from society and public opinion,” Bassem al-Sheikh, editor of Iraq’s Al-Dustour newspaper, told FRANCE 24.

To watch this report by FRANCE 24’s Ibrahim Saleh and James Wilson, click on the video player above.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app