The war against women is global. Our courageous trail-blazing sisters in Iraq are being assassinated. #SayHerName —Tara Fares, Suaad Al-Ali, Rafeef Al-Yaseri, and Rasha Al-Hassan. We may not share the same borders, but we share the same struggles. Rest in Power...????????? pic.twitter.com/B3fLJcjNrS— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) September 29, 2018
A popular social media influencer and model in Iraq was shot dead while she was driving on the streets of Baghdad.
It was just another day for 22-year-old Tara Fares as she hopped on to her white convertible and set off in the upscale Camp Sarah neighborhood in the country’s capital city. However, little did she know what was coming ahead for her.
She was shot three times by two gunmen who, as of now, remain unidentified. They were reportedly travelling on a motorbike and came near Fares’ car to shoot her.
After the shocking death, authorities launched an investigation into the incident.
The 22-year-old had a massive fan following on social media with over 2.7 million followers on Instagram. She was also a former beauty queen and had just been voted one of Iraq’s most followed social media stars.
Her friends remember her as a beautiful person.
“She was very beautiful and nice and wanted to be happy and to live her life how the rest of the world lives: without restraint and hatred,” said Omar Moner, a Baghdad-based photographer and friend. “But here in Iraq, there is no acceptance of the freedoms of others.”
Just two days before Fares’ death, a female human rights activist, Suad al-Ali, was killed in the country’s southern city of Basra. She was shot and killed in a similar manner in an outdoor market.
Rafeef al-Yaseri and Rasha al-Hassan also lost their lives just one week apart. Both women belonged to Iraq’s beauty industry.
Al-Yaseri was killed inside her home in Baghdad. She was a plastic surgeon who also organized national programs specializing in medical affairs for women.
On the other hand, al-Hassan was also killed inside her home. She was the owner and manager of Viola Beauty Center in Baghdad.
The recent deaths of these prominent women have sparked fear in the country.
All of the women who died in the recent past were seen as outspoken and were also working on changing the norms of the conservative Iraqi society.
However, the deaths signal that all them are not random acts of violence but are possibly coordinated in order to silence these vocal women.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi directed authorities to investigate Fares’ killing and said the recent premature deaths “give the impression that there is a plan behind these crimes.”
Nibras al-Maamouri, the head of the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum, said influential women of the society are being targeted to create a chaos.
“This is not something new, but to reach to the level of direct killing in front of people is dangerous. What happened to Tara Fares was abhorrent,” she added.
Although Fares had immense fan following on social media, there were people who criticized her for her lifestyle.
And now women like her who want to change the conservative society and who choose to live against the rules, fear the same might happen to them.
I didn’t know Tara Fares until today, but next person mock her or joke about her death is getting muted. no matter who she was i pray her soul find some peace and leave the judgment for God bc God knows while you don’t— Sam | ???? (@itzSaman) September 27, 2018
Iraqi fashionista and social media starlet Tara Fares gunned down yesterday. Shot six times in her car in Baghdad.https://t.co/X0kTL3NoA0 #Iraq— Jean-Marc Mojon (@mojobeirut) September 28, 2018
Seems the latest case of a young Iraqi being murdered just for looking the way she looks pic.twitter.com/WIvPMg26oQ
Tara Fares was shot today because she dressed differently, she didn’t live according to rules set by society, she valued life, she valued freedom, she chose to live according to what made her happy. pic.twitter.com/gF3m5dJIII— ??? (@Manami__Konishi) September 27, 2018
Thumbnail, Banner: Getty Images, STRINGER / AFP