Iraqi leader's paper attacks Aljazeera

A newspaper owned by the Iraqi prime minister's party has published a political cartoon attacking Aljazeera and accused it of defaming Shia religious leaders.

    Aljazeera aired a debate where an Iraqi criticised Shia leaders

    The channel's intricate Arabic calligraphy logo was rendered as a nest of intertwined vipers by cartoonist Ali al-Saadi in Al-Bayan newspaper, owned by Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Dawa party.

    The cartoon follows criticism by al-Jaafari and protests by thousands of Shia on Wednesday at Aljazeera's airing of a debate in which an Iraqi writer criticised Shia leaders. 

    "In response to the tongues of vipers, Iraqis shout with a single voice: 'You are our crown, Sayyed Ali Sistani'," said the
    paper's headline, referring to the most revered Shia cleric in
    Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

    In a debate broadcast live on Aljazeera last week, Fadel al-Rubaye, said Shia religious leaders, particularly al-Sistani, had "favoured the entry of American troops in Iraq". Al-Rubaye, a Damascus-based historian, who is an Iraqi Shia, said that Shia leaders had urged Iraqis not to resist the occupation. Al-Rubaye also called on al-Sistani and his ilk to get out of politics and get back into their mosques.

    Accused of wrongdoing

    On Saturday, al-Jaafari accused the channel of wronging the Iraqi people and called on it to mend its ways. 

    Thousands of Iraqi Shia protested
    against the channel on Wednesday

    On Wednesday, thousands of Iraqi Shia staged protests in several cities to demand an apology from the channel for airing al-Rubaye's views.

    Aljazeera has said that the views of its guests do not necessarily reflect its own. 

    The satellite channel is regularly accused by Iraqi authorities of being partial to those revolting against the government and its US backers.

    The Iraqi government has banned Aljazeera correspondents from the country.



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