A protest of followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as pictured in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Al Rabiaa TV headquarters stormed by protesters in Baghdad

On the night of October 4, 2022, protesters stormed the headquarters of privately owned Al Rabiaa TV in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, damaged the broadcaster’s equipment, and forced it to  go off air for a day, according to statements and multiple videos by the broadcasternews reports, the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission, and local press freedom groups. 

In a statement, Al Rabiaa TV said the perpetrators were “groups belonging to the Sadrist movement,” or supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who attacked the broadcaster due to reporting on one of its talk shows, without providing further details. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said in a tweet the attack was “a reprehensible act” which “represents the highest level of transgression against the law and freedom of the press and does not fall within the peaceful and legal practices and protests.” He added: “We directed that the perpetrators be held accountable, and that protection be tightened on press institutions.” 

CPJ called and emailed Ghazwan Jassem, the founder and general manager of Al-Rabiaa TV to inquire about the damage and the safety of the journalists, but didn’t receive any response.

CPJ messaged Ibrahim Al-Jabiri Al-Moussawi, director of al-Sadr’s office in Baghdad, for comment via his Facebook page, but did not receive any response. 

CPJ emailed the media office for the Iraqi interior ministry to inquire about measures taken to find the perpetrators and hold them to account but did not receive any response.