From Prison To Shootings: What’s The Story Behind Iraqi TikTokers Being Targeted

For some time now, social media has been snowballing down our lives. New social apps keep popping up and creating a craze, one of which is TikTok.

Anyone can create an account and share trending bite-sized videos. That flexibility has been putting some creators under the glaring eye of the government, one of which is Iraq.

Back in 2023, Iraq’s judiciary sentenced six Iraqi content creators to prison, which ranged from a sentence of six months to two years. These influencers were sentenced because of sharing what the judiciary believed to be “indecent” material.

At that time, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior launched an electronic platform that receives reports about offensive content. They even created a committee to monitor social media content. They began a campaign last year “to clean social media content that is said to breach Iraqi ‘morals and traditions’.”

Now, some of the TikTokers who were sentenced are also getting shot, as recently, an Iraqi TikTok influencer in Baghdad called Om Fahad was shot dead while sitting in her car in the Zayouna neighbourhood. Investigations are underway by Iraq’s Interior Ministry to find out who is the assailant.

That very TikTok influencer was one of the 6 who got sentenced last year. Back in February, the court sentenced Fahad to six months in prison for sharing “videos containing indecent speech that undermines modesty and public morality.”

Beyond Fahad, many other influencers shared her fate, including Noor Alsaffar, a 23-year-old Iraqi TikToker who was shot in September 2023, as well as Tara Fares, a 22-year-old Iraqi model and influencer who was murdered by a gunman in 2018.

The string of killings and the targeting of influencers in Iraq raises many questions. Why are these killings happening? Who is behind the killings? Are more expected to happen in the future?

The situation is unclear, and many raise flags of concern. If more incidents happen, maybe some answers can be gleaned with time.

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