Murders of Iraqi women influencers sow fears

Filed on October 1, 2018 | Last updated on October 1, 2018 at 10.21 pm
Murders of Iraqi women influencers sow fears


The deaths have sparked fear among women who dare to break the mould and visibly achieve in the conservative country.

Over the last few weeks, four go-getting Iraqi women have separately met premature deaths - two falling victim to men firing automatic weapons into their vehicles.

The deaths have sparked fear among women who dare to break the mould and visibly achieve in the conservative country.

The latest to die was 22-year-old social media influencer and model Tara Fares.

Her bloody demise at the wheel of a white Porsche convertible in Baghdad on Thursday has sparked as much debate as her racy photos.

Fares had built an Instagram following of 2.7 million people thanks to edgy fashion shoots, assertive missives and eyecatching, colourful hairstyles.

She also posted publicly about a violent ex-husband and a fiance who died after being attacked in Istanbul. But while Fares' fearless embrace of social media inspired many young Iraqis, it upset traditionalists. Fares was the target of a deluge of online insults over her perceived lack of modesty.

It was this darker side of online platforms that forced the outspoken Fares to quit living in her native Baghdad and spend much of her time in comparatively liberal, secular Iraqi Kurdistan. Fares is not the only Iraqi fashion and beauty entrepreneur to have met her death in recent weeks. In August, the managers of Baghdad's two most high profile aesthetic and plastic surgery centres died in mysterious circumstances.

The first was Rafif Al Yassiri, whose nickname was Barbie - the same name as her business venture. A week later Rasha Al Hassan, founder of the Viola Beauty Centre, was also found dead.

Both were found at their homes, and despite ongoing investigations, the causes of their deaths remain undetermined. But the rumour mill has churned up plenty of theories: drugs, heart attacks and murder.

On Tuesday, two days before Fares was shot dead, came the first confirmed murder among the spate of suspicious deaths.

In circumstances that foreshadowed the social media star's assassination, activist Soad Al Ali was shot several times while travelling in a car in the southern city of Basra.

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