Pattern of murdering high-profile Iraqi women identified; Islamic extremists suspected

Pattern of murdering high-profile Iraqi women identified; Islamic extremists suspected

The Culture
[UK Guardian] Even to a country inured to violence, the images were shocking. A man on a motorbike pulled up next to a car window and fired three shots at Tara al-Fares, killing her on a Baghdad street.

VIDEO: [TRT World] Local News report on the murder of a social media star and three other recent high-profile Iraqi women.


The daylight assassination, captured by a surveillance camera, was both brazen and familiar to Iraqis who lived through the civil war and painful decade since.

Yet it was also shockingly distinctive; the body slumped in the car seat was not a politician, official, insurgent or warlord. She was a former beauty queen; a young woman with both profile and attitude, one of four high-profile Iraqi women to have been killed across the country in quick succession.

The four were unknown to each other, but their lives – recently at least – had shared common themes. All had a public presence and a voice that had unsettled elements of Iraqi society, which has retained rigid views on how women should behave, even as relative freedoms have crept into a still conservative culture.

To reveal one such trait in post-war Iraq is daring, many Iraqi women say. To proudly showcase both can be reckless.

The effervescent Al-Fares has become a lightning rod for all four deaths, and sparked a rare public discussion in Iraq about how far women have come in the 15 years since the US invasion, the proponents of which had vowed that civic freedoms and individual liberties would somehow emerge from the ensuing chaos.

The death of Al-Fares, 22, last Friday, followed the killing of Suad al-Ali, a women’s rights activist in the southern city of Basra, who was gunned down as she walked to her car. In August, two more Iraqi women, Rasha al-Hassan and Rafifi al-Yasiri were killed one week apart. Both worked in beauty clinics.

Iraq’s acting prime minister, Haider al-Abadi has said that that the deaths are not random events and has pledged to hunt down the attackers. Iraqi women have gone further. Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi who leads the institute Women for Women International in Washington said “Women are being hit left right and centre. Everywhere. We are living in the modern witch-hunt.”

This article continues at [UK Guardian] Deaths of high-profile Iraqi women spark fear of conservative backlash

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