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3 weeks ago

Iraqi TikTok star Om Fahad shot dead in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Iraqi TikTok star Om Fahad was shot dead in a late-night attack outside her home in eastern Baghdad’s Zoyouna district, Al Jazeera reported on Saturday.

The viral creator of the short video-making platform, Tiktok, was shot down by an unidentified assailant who came on a motorcycle, wearing dark clothing and a helmet, got off the motorcycle, walked towards a black SUV, and shot Om Fahad, who was sitting inside, according to the surveillance camera footage captured from the incident site.

Al Jazeera reported that the Ministry of Interior said it had set up a team to investigate the circumstances of the killing.

Om Fahad, whose real name is Ghufran Sawadi, was popular on TikTok with nearly half a million followers for sharing videos of herself dancing to pop music.

In February 2023, she was sentenced to six months in prison by a court that determined her videos contained “indecent speech that undermines modesty and public morality”. Some of her videos generated more than one million views.

Five more online content creators also received prison terms ranging up to two years at the time, and investigations were launched against others.

This came after the Iraqi Interior Ministry in January 2023 launched a committee to discover “obscene and degrading content” posted online by influencers like Om Fahad in a stated effort to safeguard “morals and family traditions” in Iraqi society.

Al Jazeera reported that it also created an online platform where Iraqi users were encouraged to report any such content to be taken down. Authorities claimed at the time that the public welcomed the platform and tens of thousands of reports were registered by the public.

Some online content creators were forced to apologise and take down some of their content after the crackdown by the ministry.

The Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a report last year that it found no grounds for indictment of Om Fahad and that her content did not exceed the limits of her rights to freedom of opinion, expression or publication.

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