TikTok Star Shot Dead in Baghdad

(RepublicanDaily.org) – An Iraqi TikTok star paid the ultimate price for fame after she was shot by a man on a motorcycle just outside her home in Baghdad, Iraq.

Ghufran Mahdi Sawadi, 30, better known as Um Fahad (translated to “mother of Fahad), was shot outside her home in the largely upscale Zayoona neighborhood, which also happens to be a home for many of the country’s military leaders. Zayoona was also where Hisham al-Hashimi, a known Iraqi researcher and security expert, was killed by gunmen in 2020.

Sawadi was inside her SUV when she was shot, with the gunman alighting from a motorcycle, walking up to the vehicle and then yanking open the door, shooting Sawadi four times, killing her in the process.

Sawadi was a budding social media star, and had close to half a million followers on the popular short video format app, and another 130,000 followers on Instagram. She rose to fame for wearing revealing or tight clothing, and posting videos of her dancing, or signing while cuddling her young son.

While she enjoyed massive online popularity, she elicited the opposite response from largely ultra-conservative members of the Muslim-majority country, including Iraqi government officials. At one time, a number of officials called for Sawadi to spend three months in jail over her social media posts. Critics of the influencer say that she was infected with values that were considered Western and secular. The Iraqi government, which has been dominated by figures sympathetic to Iran, have moved towards more ultra-conservative policies, targeting individuals who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. It is now illegal in Iraq to have homosexual relations, and violators face anywhere from 10 to 15 years in tough Iraqi prisons if caught and convicted.

While Iraqi government officials have formed a task force to investigate her killing, Sawadi’s relatives are skeptical that justice will be served. Her brother, Ameer Mehdi Sawadi, one of the very few people who came to her funeral, said that no government official had spoken to him since his sister was killed.

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