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Pakistani Social Media Star Qandeel Baloch Murdered in Apparent Honor Killing

Pakistani Social Media Star Qandeel Baloch Murdered in Apparent Honor Killing

Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media star, was strangled to death by her brother in Multan, Pakistan, on Friday. The fashion model garnered fame and notoriety with her unconventional and scandalous — by Pakistani standards — public persona, and she had recently caused a stir by posting selfies with a prominent Muslim cleric, Mufti Qawi, during Ramadan. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, had a huge social media fanbase, with 40,000 Twitter followers and more than 700,000 on her official Facebook page.

After the scandal with Qawi erupted, Baloch reported that she’d received death threats and had asked for Interior Ministry protection. She had also received warnings and threats from her six brothers, who told her to stop modeling and posting on social media. According to The Express Tribune; however, the City Police had not received a written request from her for protection. Because she feared for her security, Baloch had decided she was going to settle somewhere abroad after Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan.

Baloch was an outspoken progressive and feminist, presenting herself as a figure of female empowerment against misogyny and domestic violence, which is extremely common in Pakistan, where the Associated Press reports, "hundreds of women are murdered by family members each year in so-called honor killings."

“As a women we must stand up for ourselves,” she wrote on Facebook on July 14. “As a women we must stand up for each other...As a women we must stand up for justice. I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don't think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM. :)”

Baloch's killer, her brother Muhammad Waseem, fled after her murder. He was arrested late on Saturday, and confessed to drugging and then strangling his sister "for honor" during a press conference on Sunday

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Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images