Baghdad – (IraqiNews.com) The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said Sunday it was going to kick out reporters working for Asharq al-Awsat newspaper following a report in which it claimed that unwanted pregnancies were rampant among Shia pilgrims in Karbala.
In a statement, the command said that “based on the lies and insults” made by the newspaper about the Iraqi people, it was decided that “every reporter affiliated with that sick newspaper be kicked out and prevented from presence with the troops.” The command accused the newspaper of seeking to divert attention from success in securing the religious season and victories against the Islamic State militants in Nineveh.
The Saudi-owned, London-based newspaper, attributing its report to a World Health Organization mediaagent, said several cases of illegal pregnancies were detected in Karbala, the holy Shia city where millions of Iraqis and foreign visitors are flowing to commemorate the death of Imam al-Hussein, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
The WHO categorically detached itself from the report in a statement on Sunday, vowing to take legal action against the newspaper. The newspaper, on its behalf, offered an apology and said it was going to discharge its reporter in Baghdad who made the report, stressing it was still committed to “professionalism and objectivity.”
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also stressed on his country’s right to sue the paper.
Influential Shia leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, had also labelled the report a “filthy infringement”. He, too demanded an apology or, otherwise, the newspaper’s office “shall be closed through the well-known methods,” as he put it, in a possible reference to a violent option.