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Iraqi TikTok star Om Fahad shot dead in Baghdad

In the Zayouna district of Baghdad, Ghufran Sawadi, better known as Om Fahad, a prominent Iraqi TikTok personality, was fatally shot outside her residence during a late-night attack.

Video footage from surveillance cameras captured the chilling incident, showing a lone assailant, clad in dark attire and a helmet, dismounting from a motorcycle.

The assailant then approached a parked black SUV and opened fire on Om Fahad, who was seated inside the vehicle. The Ministry of Interior promptly launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack.

TikTok stardom marred by controversy

Om Fahad had amassed a considerable following on TikTok, boasting nearly half a million followers who avidly followed her dance videos set to popular music. However, her fame was not without controversy.

In February 2023, she was sentenced to six months in prison by a court for producing videos deemed to contain “indecent speech” that purportedly undermined public morality. This legal action was part of a broader crackdown on online content creators in Iraq, with several others also facing imprisonment for similar offenses.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry had initiated measures to monitor and censor online content it deemed offensive, citing concerns about preserving societal morals and family values. It included the establishment of an online platform where users could report objectionable content for removal.

International concerns over freedom of expression

Despite facing legal challenges, Om Fahad’s supporters argued that her content fell within the bounds of freedom of expression and opinion.

International human rights organizations, including the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, expressed concerns that the crackdown on online influencers could lead to the erosion of civil liberties and the stifling of dissent.

Om Fahad’s tragic death is not an isolated incident in Iraq’s digital landscape. Other influencers, such as Noor Alsaffar and Tara Fares, have also been victims of violence, highlighting the dangers faced by those who challenge societal norms and authority figures online.

Earlier this month, a massive blast struck a military base south of Baghdad utilized by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

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