Iraqis outraged after father kills YouTube star daughter

BAGHDAD (AFP): The death of a young YouTube star at the hands of her father has sparked outrage in Iraq, where so-called “honour killings” continue to take place in the conservative country.

Tiba al-Ali, 22, was killed by her father on January 31 in the southern province of Diwaniya, interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said on Twitter on Friday.

Police had attempted to mediate between Ali — who resided in Turkey and was visiting Iraq — and her relatives to “resolve the family dispute in a definitive manner”, Maan said.

Unverified recordings of conversations between Ali and her father appeared to indicate that he was unhappy about her decision to live alone in Turkey.

Maan said that after the police’s initial encounter with the family “we were surprised the next day… with the news of her killing at the hands of her father, as he admitted in his initial confessions”.

He did not give further details on the nature of the dispute.

Ali had gained a following on YouTube, where she posted videos of her daily life and in which her fiance often appeared.

A police source speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity meanwhile confirmed that the “family dispute” dated back to 2015.

She had travelled to Turkey with her family in 2017, but upon their return, she refused to join them, choosing instead to stay in Turkey where she resided since, the police source said.

Her death has sparked uproar among Iraqis on social media, who have called for protests in Baghdad on Sunday to demand justice in response to her death.

“Women in our societies are hostage to backward customs due to the absence of legal deterrents and government measures — which currently are not commensurate with the size of domestic violence crimes,” wrote veteran politician Ala Talabani on Twitter.

Human rights defender Hanaa Edwar told AFP that, according to voice recordings attributed to the young woman, “she left her family… because she was sexually assaulted by her brother”.

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights too reported the allegation. AFP could not independently verify the authenticity of the voice recordings.

Amnesty International condemned the “horrific” killing, saying “the Iraqi penal code still treats leniently so called ‘honour crimes’ comprising violent acts such as assault and even murder”.

“Until the Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls… we will inevitably continue to witness horrific murders,” Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Aya Majzoub, said.