Om Fahad, famous Iraqi TikToker shot dead in front of her home: sentenced to 6 months for “indecent” videos


By John

Vital, smiling, plump, brightly dressed: this is how she appeared in the videos shared last week in which she filmed herself in front of a mirror and while driving her SUV. Each video viewed hundreds of times on TikTok. Of Om Fahad, real name Ghufran Sawadi, an Iraqi influencer with half a million followers, joyful images will remain, despite the fact that on Friday evening an unknown person shot her at point blank range, killing her while she was sitting in the car in front of her house, in the Zayouna neighborhood of Baghdad.

Surveillance camera footage captured the attack: the attacker arrived alone on a motorbike, wearing dark clothing and a helmet, got out, headed towards her black car and fired. According to anonymous security sources, she pretended to be a food delivery rider.

Another woman was also injured in the attack, the US agency Al Hurra wrote. After the killing, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said it had established a team of specialized investigators to investigate the circumstances of the killing. Om Fahad was successful on her social media, she was known for sharing videos of herself dancing to Iraqi pop music wearing tight clothing, performances that generated more than a million views.

But all that notoriety in a society in which civil liberties for women remain limited evidently did not find such broad consensus. In February 2023, the famous TikToker was sentenced to six months in prison by a court which ruled that her videos contained “indecent speeches that undermine public modesty and morality”.

The ruling came just a month after Baghdad's Interior Ministry launched a committee to discover “obscene and degrading content” published online by influencers like Om Fahad, in a declared attempt to safeguard “morals and family traditions” of Iraqi society . The ministry had also created an online platform where users were encouraged to report content to be removed.

Authorities claimed at the time that the public had welcomed the platform and that tens of thousands of reports had been registered by the public. But last year the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said there was no reason to charge Om Fahad and that its contents did not exceed the limits of his rights to freedom of opinion, expression or publication.

Recently, the public's curiosity was piqued by a feud between influencers: on one side Om Fahad, on the other her colleague Dalia Naeem, known as the Iraqi Barbie due to her numerous plastic surgery operations, who had threatened to report a Ghufran's alleged relationship with senior Iraqi officials. Om Fahadnon's murder is not the first murder of an influencer in Iraq.

Last year in September Noor Alsaffar, a 23-year-old Tiktoker followed on social media by hundreds of thousands of people, was shot dead. Five years earlier, in 2018, Tara Fares, a 22-year-old model, fell to the killers. Honor killings also continue to be a widespread practice in the country: the latest last January when the 22-year-old YouTube star Tiba al-Ali was strangled by her father.