A terrified former Iraqi beauty queen has revealed that she received “death threats” days after another model from the country was shot dead. She fears that female influencers in Iraq are “being slaughtered like chickens.”
In a tearful online broadcast, Miss Iraq 2015 and social media star Shaima Qassem told her 1.7 million followers on Instagram that she had received blood-curdling text messages saying “You are next.”
Are we guilty because we are famous and appear in the media? We are being slaughtered like chickens.
The threats come amid a string of murders targeting female rights activists across the country. The 25-year-old model’s video was published less than a week after another Iraqi social media star, Tara Faris, was found shot dead in her car in Baghdad. Faris participated in the same beauty pageant as Qassem in 2015, and even then some contestants reportedly faced deaths threats forcing them to drop out of the competition.
In late September, Suad al-Ali, a prominent activist and founder of a local NGO dealing with the rights of women and children, was shot dead. Some believe that religious extremists could be behind the assassinations of Iraqi women.
An Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said “rapid measures” were being taken to find those responsible for the killings.
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