Iraq gov't demands legal action against Al Jazeera

Parliament overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to start legal proceedings against Al-Jazeera television over perceived insults by the Arabic news channel against Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The nature of the legal action to be taken by parliament was not immediately clear. Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, only said the matter would be decided by parliament's legal department. The move by the 275-seat house followed protests last Friday in the southern cities of Basra and Najaf by hundreds of Shi'ites angered by an Al-Jazeera talk show last week in which the host questioned al-Sistani's leadership credentials and appeared to cast doubt on whether he personally authored his edicts. On Sunday, Iran's parliament also decided to ban Al-Jazeera reporters from its building in protest.