Hundreds of people came out to the streets in Karbala to commemorate the death of civil activist Fahim al-Tai, who was assassinated by unknown gunmen.
On Sunday evening, Fahim al-Ta’i, an activist based in Karbala, was assassinated outside al-Ansar Hotel in the Baroudi area of Karbala by unknown gunmen on a motorcycle as Ta’i was returning home from
a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Baghdad. A video of his assassination has been shared on social media.
Al-Tai is known to have played a prominent role in encouraging the protests in Karbala and has been openly critical of influential political figures.
“The martyr was a role model for us. He has always been in the square to provide logistical support, he is one of the heroes of this square and we remain here and will not leave this square until we fulfil our demands and topple this corrupt authority”, expressed a man participating in the commemoration.
Ta’i is thought to have been a support of Muqtada al-Sadr, leading to claims that the assassination was committed by Iranian-backed militias. Nevertheless, the identities of the perpetrators remain unconfirmed. Reactions on social media to the assassination of Al-Tai have been prevalent, with many condemning his death and seeing it as an affront to the aims of the protests, which are to unite Iraqis and shine light on corruption in the country.
Civil activists have found themselves in a precarious position throughout the protests in Iraq. Certain internal and external forces are wary of their activism and encouragement of the protests. In a somewhat similar episode, social activists Mari Muhammad in Baghdad and Hasan al-Zaim in Dhi Qar had been kidnapped and were later released by unknown individuals amidst the protests in Iraq.
The Government has stated that the chaos brought about by the protests and the violent clashes with the security forces has made it difficult to protect activists from harm. Although the assassinations and kidnappings have been carried out incognito, the political aims behind them are being widely discussed.