22-year-old Iraqi model Tara Fares who had millions of Instagram followers was shot dead at the wheel of her Porsche convertible in central Baghdad by unknown gunmen. The incident took place in the last week of September 2018. Fares, who was voted Baghdad’s beauty queen in 2013, was killed just two days after female human rights activist Suad al-Ali was shot in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. All pictures/Tara Fares Instagram
Tara Fares was the daughter of an Iraqi father and a Lebanese mother. Tara Fares was baptized as a Christian, she later converted to Islam. She got married when she was 16-year-old. After the birth of her son, she divorced. In her Instagram channel, her Western lifestyle was documented
Hours after she was gunned down on September 27, a video on social media showed her body being carried away by a group of young people, with her face and white shirt stained with blood
The body of Tara Fares was sent to the Sheik Zayed Hospital in Baghdad for an autopsy. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced the investigation of the case. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an investigation into what he called 'well-planned kidnappings and killings'. Security agencies have not yet commented on the investigation into Tara Fares’ death and no group has claimed responsibility. After the autopsy, Tara Fares was buried in the Shia holy city of Najaf
Tara Fares had built an Instagram following of 2.7 million people thanks to edgy fashion shoots, assertive missives and eye-catching, colourful hairstyles. A YouTube channel drew more than 120,000 followers in addition to those on Instagram, where she shared make-up tips. She also posted publicly about a violent ex-husband and a fiance who died after being attacked in Istanbul
Tara Fares gave details of a brief marriage at 16 to an abusive husband who posted intimate photos of her on social media and took away their now three-year-old son. Fares said the experience gave her 'strength … and how not to let anyone control me in anything'
But while Tara Fares' fearless embrace of social media inspired many young Iraqis, it upset traditionalists. Fares was the target of a deluge of online insults over her perceived lack of modesty, in a society where many adhere to hardline interpretations of Islam
It was this darker side of online platforms that forced the outspoken Tara Fares to quit living in her native Baghdad and spend much of her time in comparatively liberal, secular Iraqi Kurdistan.
After Tara Fares passed away, a black and white photograph of Tara appeared on her Instagram account, with a caption which reads: "In a treacherous and cowardly incident, Tara Fares Chamoun, is with God. We asked God to accept her with His great mercy."
An Iraqi satirist, who has been living in exile in Jordon following death threats, Ahmad al-Basheer, condemned the killing. Tara Fares was based in Iraqi Kurdistan. Ahmad said, "Anyone who finds excuses for those who kill a girl just because she had decided to live like most other girls on the planet is an accomplice to her murder."
In August, Dr Rafeef al-Yassiri, a plastic surgeon labelled 'Iraq's Barbie' who also posted images of herself on social media, died under mysterious circumstances. Authorities initially called it a drug overdose but have not offered an update in over a month, leading to rumours she might have been poisoned
A Twitter user wrote, "Tara Fares, a fashionista with 2.7 million followers on Instagram for her pictures sporting tattoos, different hair colours and adventurous clothes, was a victim of her fame and targeted because of her lifestyle."
Tara Fares was not the only Iraqi fashion and beauty entrepreneur to have met her death in recent weeks. In August, the managers of Baghdad's two most high profile aesthetic and plastic surgery centres died in mysterious circumstances. The first was Rafif al-Yassiri, whose nickname was Barbie — the same name as her business venture
A week later Rasha al-Hassan, founder of the Viola Beauty Centre, was also found dead. Both were found at their homes, and despite ongoing investigations, the causes of their deaths remain undetermined. But the rumour mill has churned up plenty of theories: drugs, heart attacks and murder
The violence has raised fears of a return to the kind of attacks on prominent figures that plagued the country at the height of its sectarian strife. Iraq is still recovering from its fight against Islamic State militants
Iraq has been without a government since national elections in May, and riots have repeatedly broken out in the south over the authorities’ failure to provide basic services
The following slides are a glimpse of what Tara Fares usually writes on Instagram
Tara Fares: "There is many people still talking about me and that's normal Ø They try to destroy my relations with friends. But the person who trusts me can not be shaken by your words because it is just talk." (sic)
Tara Fares: "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." (sic)
Tara Fares: You know what, I'm happy. Yeah things aren’t perfect but they’re going okay. Some days are bad, but then again some days are better. I have a lot to be thankful for and I know it’s all going to work out in the end." (sic)
A 22-year-old former beauty queen, fashion model and social media star Tara Fares was shot in broad daylight in Iraq. Fares, who was on the wheels of her, was killed by a man who escaped on a motorcycle with an accomplice. The brutal killing has shocked the social media circles and prompted the Iraqi government to probe the killing. Here's what transpired... All pictures/Tara Fares Instagram
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