It was August 2019. Electro-rap riffs rose from a stadium in the heart of Baghdad. In the excited crowd, hundreds of young women and men in jeans and sneakers, but also bikers from rival clubs in the Iraqi capital, in black leather and big tattooed arms, danced in the sweaty summer heat on a set of the local hip-hop collective, Tribe of Monsters. Tuning fans were ecstatic in front of the cars on display on the lawn at the entrance. “We organized this evening so that people know that there is, in Iraq, this type of culture and people who love life and music”, commented delighted Arshad Haybat Al-Fakhry, the organizer of the Riot Gear Summer Rush.
With this event, the first of its kind in Iraq, the 31-year-old, who had rolled his bump on the front lines during the war against the Islamic State (IS) organization as a fixer and translator for foreign journalists, s ‘imposed like the king of the evenings of Baghdad for a new generation eager to emancipate itself from the religious and conservative atmosphere of the country. He was kidnapped on November 20, 2020, and, at the start of 2021, his relatives are still without news.
It all happened during a Ladies’night – alcohol-free – which he organized by the swimming pool of the Ishtar hotel, in the center of Baghdad. “Men with security forces uniforms, we do not know which ones, arrived with about twenty cars and kidnapped thirteen people, including Arshad and the nephew of a minister”, says his brother Amjad. Eleven of the revelers were released outside the hotel. Arshad and the minister’s nephew were taken away by the gunmen. The second “Was released after two days, blindfolded, in front of the ministry. He says he knows nothing about those who kidnapped them and where he was held. He is afraid “, continues Amjad.
“We have problems with people who don’t understand what we’re doing. They think it is something imported from the so-called enemies of Iraq. “Arshad Haybat
The family of Arshad Haybat, who does not have the minister’s interpersonal skills, has, for their part, had no news. She received no response from the authorities. Sabreen News, a news channel linked to Shiite armed factions and broadcast on Telegram, announced on November 22 that Arshad Haybat had been arrested – without specifying by whom – for organizing “A masonic evening” and having been in possession of half a kilogram of heroin. Officials contacted by the family claimed he was hosting an LGBT party and was in possession of drugs. Allegations that his brother refutes.
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