Shiite Muslim devotees self-flagellate over an unfurled banner on the ground depicting the Pride rainbow flag defaced with a boot and the Arabic slogan "no to homosexual society," in Iraq's southern city of Nasiriyah on July 25. PHOTO/COURTESY: CN
International News

Iraqi TikToker Noor BM Shot Dead In Baghdad

Popular Iraqi TikToker Noor BM has been shot dead in Baghdad. The news was relayed by an insider within the Iraqi security apparatus to CNN.

Noor BM had garnered an impressive legion of admirers, boasting a collective following that exceeded 370,000 ardent supporters on both Instagram and TikTok.

Noor BM,s online presence was an enchanting tapestry of creativity, where she unfurled a diverse array of concise video vignettes. These visual snippets celebrated an electric fusion of fashion ensembles, avant-garde hairstyling, and the artistry of makeup.

She often graced her audience with rhythmic dances set to the harmonious cadences of music, casting a spell of allurre and charm that left an indelible mark.

In the wake of the tragic shooting that claimed Noor BM’s life, a wave of reactions flooded the digital space. Heartfelt condolences poured in from many, mourning her untimely demise, while a disturbing faction celebrated the assailant responsible for the fatal shot.

An anonymous Iraqi security source, who was not authorized to speak to the media, disclosed to CNN that “an investigation has been opened” in the aftermath of this harrowing incident. Noor DM’s lifeless body has been transferred to the forensic department for further examination.

Iraqi police spokesperson, Khaled Almehna, termed this dreadful episode as a “criminal incident” in a statement on Tuesday. He hinted at forthcoming important updates as the situation unfolded.

The tragic event occurs within the context of Iraq’s increasingly stringent stance against LGBTQ expression, with legislative measures aimed at criminalizing it. While not explicitly prohibited by current Iraqi laws, LBGTQ individuals often find themselves in the crosshairs of vague morality clauses within the penal code.

Prior to this unfortunate incident, Noor BM had already weathered a storm of online abuse and inquiries regarding her sexuality and gender identity. In a 2020 interview on Iraq’s Al Walaa channel, she clarified, “I am not transgender and I am not gay. I don’t have other tendencies, I am only a cross-dresser and a model.

Noor BM identified as male, working as both a model and a makeup artist.

In her online videos, she candidly discussed the threats she faced on social media dude to her clothing choices. In a 2021 YouTube interview with Iraqi blogger Samir Jermani, she said, “I am cautious but not afraid.”

Iraqi LGBTQ rights organization, IraQueer, mourned the loss of Noor BM on social media, employing hashtags such as #Transphobia and #MurderOfTransPeople to draw attention to the broader issues at play.

Meanwhile, a concerning development looms in the Iraqi parliament, where a new law has been proposed that explicitly criminalizes same-sex relations, transgender expression, and other forms of LGBTQ conduct. The potention consequences are dire, including the death penalty or life imprisonment for same sex relations, a minimum seven-year sentence for promoting homosexuality, and up to three years for imitating women.

Rights groups have voiced alarm over the escalating violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people in Iraq. The country has witnessed protests, predominantly led by supporters of Shiite Muslim factions, who burned the rainbow flag in response to Quran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has highlighted the impunity that typically accompanies violence against LGBTQ individuals in Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi media regulator, in a controversial move, banned the term homosexuality from all traditional and social media platforms in August, demanding the use of the term sexual deviance instead.

Across the Middle East, LGBTQ communities are facing increasing crackdowns, including digital targeting based on online activities. These violations are often followed by severe punitive measures, sucha as arbitrary detention and torture, as documented by HRW in countries like Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia.