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Former Miss Iraq 'threatened' after fellow Instagram star's murder

Former Miss Iraq 'threatened' after fellow Instagram star's murder


A former Miss Iraq says she has received death threats, days after another Iraqi model was shot dead.

 

Shimaa Qassem voiced fears for her life in a live video broadcast online, saying she had received a message warning her that she would be next.

 

On Thursday, Tara Fares - who had 2.8 million followers on Instagram - was killed by unknown gunmen in Baghdad.

 

Her death came two days after a female human rights activist, Suad al-Ali, was gunned down in the city of Basra.

 

And in August, the owners of two beauty salons in Baghdad - Rafeef al-Yaseri and Rasha al-Hassan - died a week apart in "mysterious circumstances" at their homes.

It is not clear whether any of the deaths are connected. But Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he has the impression there is "a plan behind these crimes" and he has ordered an investigation.

 

Ms Qassem - who has 2.7 million followers on Instagram - tearfully revealed in a video posted on Saturday that she had received text messages saying "you are next" following the killing of Ms Fares.

 

She said women who had made a name for themselves in Iraq faced being "slaughtered like chickens" and described Ms Fares as a "martyr".

 

Ms Fares, 22, was killed when two motorcyclists opened fire at her car in broad daylight in the Camp Sarah area of central Baghdad.

 

She had been living in the city of Irbil in the Kurdistan region for the past three year because she felt it was safer, but she occasionally travelled to the capital.

 

The former Miss Baghdad posted photos of herself wearing close-fitting outfits, as well as photos of her eye-catching hairstyles, make-up and tattoos.

 

Ms Fares was reportedly threatened and insulted on social media over her perceived lack of modesty, and some have speculated that religious extremists may have targeted her.

 

The founder of the human rights group, the Iraqi al-Amal Association, Hanaa Edwar, told AFP news agency that the recent murders appeared to be "threatening messages sent to activists in particular, but also to the whole of society".

 

"Attacking women who are public figures is a bid to force them to shut themselves away at home," she added.