Iraqi social media star Om Fahad killed outside her house in Baghdad

Iraqi woman, famous for her light-hearted content on social media, was shot dead inside her car

Arpan Rai
Saturday 27 April 2024 14:19 BST
Related video: Isis holding thousands of women and children as slaves in Iraq

A popular Iraqi social media star has been shot dead outside her home in Baghdad, officials said.

The TikTok influencer Om Fahad, real name Ghufran Sawadi, was shot inside her car by “unknown assailants” on Friday, Iraq’s interior ministry said in a statement. It described Ms Sawadi as being “known on social networking sites”.

She was shot dead in Baghdad’s eastern Zayne neighbourhood by a gunman on a motorbike, according to footage of the attack shared by private Iraqi news outlet Al Sharqiya.

A “specialised work team” has been set up to probe the circumstances leading to her death, the interior ministry said.

The attacker appeared to have been pretending to make a food delivery to the victim, according to an Iraqi security source, reported the AFP news agency.

Another woman was also injured in the attack, reported the US-owned Al Hurra news agency.

The influencer was known for sharing videos of herself dancing and wearing tight-fitting clothes. She danced to Iraqi pop music and made light-hearted videos, becoming an instant hit and engaging tens of thousands of followers.

But her videos upset some portions of Iraq’s conservative, Muslim-majority society. In February last year she was sentenced to six months in prison for sharing “videos containing indecent speech that undermines modesty and public morality”.

Her sentencing came a month after the country’s interior ministry formed a committee to investigate reports of what it called indecent posts and set up a website for public complaints. The site received tens of thousands of reports.

The ministry said it would clean up social media content it found to have breached Iraq’s “morals and traditions”.

A month later, judicial authorities announced the courts had charged 14 people for posting content labelled indecent or immoral; six were sentenced to prison time.

Among those targeted were Ms Sawadi and other people who posted videos of music, comedy skits and sarcastic social commentary. Some showed dance moves deemed provocative, used obscene language or raised sensitive social issues such as gender relations.

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