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WATCH: Iraqi TikTok Star “Om Fahad” Fatally Shot Outside Her Home



(CTN News) – In the dead of night, tragedy struck in the Zayouna district of eastern Baghdad as Ghufran Sawadi, better known to her online audience as Om Fahad, fell victim to a fatal attack outside her residence.

Surveillance footage captured the chilling scene: a lone figure, cloaked in dark attire and a helmet, dismounted a motorcycle and approached a parked SUV. In a moment of senseless violence, shots rang out, claiming the life of Om Fahad who sat within.

The Ministry of Interior swiftly mobilized a team to probe the circumstances surrounding this heinous act, aiming to unearth answers amidst the darkness that engulfed the vibrant online personality.

Om Fahad had garnered widespread fame on TikTok, captivating nearly half a million followers with her spirited dance routines set to popular tunes. However, her journey was not without controversy.

The Tragic Demise of Iraqi TikTok Star Om Fahad

In a tumultuous turn of events in February 2023, she found herself embroiled in a legal battle, sentenced to six months behind bars by a court that condemned her videos for their perceived indecency, citing an erosion of public morals and modesty.

Despite the backlash, her content resonated with millions, some videos amassing over a million views.

The crackdown extended beyond Om Fahad, with five fellow creators facing similar fates, meted out prison terms of varying lengths, and others facing ongoing scrutiny.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry’s initiative, launched in January 2023, sought to purge online platforms of what it deemed as obscene and degrading content, purportedly to safeguard the sanctity of morals and familial values within Iraqi society.

A digital frontier was forged with the introduction of an online reporting platform, urging Iraqi netizens to flag objectionable content for removal. Officials claimed widespread public support, boasting tens of thousands of reports flooding in as citizens rallied behind the cause.

Yet, amidst these efforts to uphold societal norms, the tragic demise of Om Fahad serves as a sobering reminder of the precarious balance between freedom of expression and the perils of censorship.

The Crackdown on Online Content Creators in Iraq

Following the ministry’s crackdown, several online content creators found themselves compelled to issue apologies and remove select content from their platforms.

Despite these actions, the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, in a report issued last year, concluded that Om Fahad’s content did not warrant indictment and fell well within her rights to freedom of expression, opinion, and publication.

The independent organization voiced apprehension over the broader implications of the campaign, warning against potential encroachments on public freedoms, the criminalization of criticism directed at officials or state institutions, and the normalization of trials targeting political activists.

Tragically, Om Fahad joins a somber list of Iraqi influencers whose lives were cut short amid the escalating crackdown on online freedoms.

Noor Alsaffar, a 23-year-old TikTok sensation with a substantial following, met a similar fate in September 2023. Tara Fares, a 22-year-old model and influencer, fell victim to gunmen in 2018.

The specter of so-called “honour killings” looms over Iraq as well, with the chilling case of 22-year-old YouTube star Tiba al-Ali, strangled by her own father in January of last year, serving as a stark reminder of the grave risks faced by individuals who dare to defy societal norms.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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