Iraqi social media star Umm Fahad shot dead outside Baghdad home

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Iraqi social media star Umm Fahad

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 27: Iraqi social media influencer Ghufran Sawadi, known widely as Umm Fahad, met a tragic end on Friday night when she was fatally shot outside her home in Baghdad, according to a Baghdad police source.

The incident unfolded in the Zayouna area east of Baghdad and was captured on surveillance footage, and subsequently circulated on social media platforms. The video depicts a gunman riding a motorcycle opening fire on Sawadi, resulting in her immediate death. A Baghdad police source has verified the authenticity of the footage to CNN.

In response to the alarming incident, the country’s Interior Minister announced the formation of a specialized team to investigate the circumstances surrounding Sawadi’s killing, which was carried out by unidentified assailants.

Sawadi gained prominence on TikTok, where she amassed a sizable following by sharing videos of herself dancing to popular music while clad in form-fitting attire. However, her content had drawn controversy in the past, with Iraq’s judiciary deeming it inappropriate. Sawadi had previously been sentenced to six months in prison for the “crime of producing and publishing several films and videos containing obscene and indecent language, violating public decency and morals,” according to a statement from the Iraqi judiciary.

Tragically, Sawadi’s fate mirrors that of other Iraqi social media figures who have been targeted in fatal attacks. Notably, Noor Alsaffar, also a prominent TikTok personality, was fatally shot in Baghdad in September 2023. Alsaffar, known as Noor BM, boasted a substantial following on Instagram and TikTok, where she shared content related to fashion, hair, makeup, and dancing to music.

Following news of Alsaffar’s killing, social media platforms were flooded with condolences, although some disturbingly celebrated the perpetrator of the act.

The killing of Alsaffar occurred amid a broader crackdown on LGBTQ expression in Iraq, with authorities moving to criminalize such expression.

Reporting from Baghdad, Erbil, and London, CNN’s Aqeel Najim, Nechirvan Mando, and Duarte Mendonca contributed to this report.

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