Iraq, where so-called “honour killings” continue to occur, is in uproar after the death of a young YouTube star at the hands of her father.
Tiba al-Ali, 22, was killed by her father on January 31 in the southern province of Diwaniya, Saad Maan, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said in a tweet on Friday.
It is understood that Tiba al-Ali fled her homeland in 2017 to start a new life in Turkey and had planned to marry her Syrian-born boyfriend.
However, she was allegedly kidnapped by her family when she returned back to Iraq to watch her nation’s football team compete in the Arabian Gulf Cup.
Police had attempted to mediate between Ms. Ali and her relatives to “resolve the family dispute in a definitive manner,” Mr. Maan said.
Unverified sources report that Ali’s father appeared to disagree with her decision to live alone in Turkey. According to local media, the influencer was shocked when her entire family showed up after agreeing to meet her mother at a friend’s house in Baghdad.
She was reportedly drugged before being carried back to the family home in Al-Qadisiyyah Governorate. The media reports that when she recovered, she and her father had a heated argument. But later, while she was sleeping, he entered her room and strangled her to death.
Her father, who was unidentified in the local media, turned himself in to the police and confessed to killing his own daughter to ‘wash away the shame’.
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 elaborate further 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.
Under the condition of anonymity, a police source revealed that the “family dispute” began in 2015.
She had accompanied her family on a trip to Turkey in 2017, but following their return, she declined to go with them and instead chose to remain in Turkey, where she has been living ever since, according to the police source.
Justice demanded for ‘honour crimes’
Iraqis have taken to social media in outrage at her death, calling for protests to be held in Baghdad on Sunday to demand justice.
”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.
Amnesty International also 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”.
Its deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Aya Majzoub, said: “Until the Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls … we will inevitably continue to witness horrific murders.”
Ali’s father is now being investigated by the police for murder, but under Iran’s penal code, he could avoid jail time by claiming the death was an “honour killing.”