ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi novelist and cartoonist was killed on Saturday evening by unidentified gunmen in a heavily guarded neighborhood of the holy city of Karbala.
Alaa Mashzoub was shot 13 times by an armed group in the neighborhood of Maitham al-Tammar as he was making his way home by bicycle, a security source in Karbala told Kurdistan 24.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mashzoub.
Karbala police in its late-night statement said it had launched an immediate investigation into the “heinous crime” and would bring those “trying to destabilize the city” to justice.
“Our city is safe, stable, and will remain a city of peace and security,” read the statement issued by police.
Authorities have yet to reveal any details regarding the possible motive behind the killing. Iraqis and activists on social media networks, however, speculated he was likely to have been killed over his political views and open criticisms of politics in the region.
Recently, Mashzoub’s personal social media posts on Facebook indirectly criticized the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the former supreme leader of the country, Ruhollah Khomeini.
Two weeks ago, he lamented Iran’s influence on his country, stating Khomeini had lived in Iraq for 13 years before going to Paris to launch his “Cassette Revolution,” speeches by the exiled preacher smuggled by tapes to Iran. Khomeini eventually returned to Iran “to govern, and then to ignite the war between his country and his former host country [Iraq],” according to Mashzoub.
With exactly 13 bullets used to kill Mashzoub, many Iraqi activists linked the assassination of the novelists to what he said about Khomeini and what he recently published on Facebook. They also took the opportunity to criticize other clerics in Karbala in a broad manner.
Karbala Police urged Iraqis not to rush to conclusions based on speculation and noted investigators were making efforts to uncover more details about the assassination.
Iraqi pundits and activists shared their sympathies and expressed sadness on social media networks, with some asking “What can words do against 13 bullets.”
Mashzoub earned a Ph.D. in Fine Arts in 2014 and has written and published multiple papers and books in his field of expertise. His titles included I may come back to you, released in 2010, Nostalgia, 2011, Widows Lane, 2012, Homogeneous Mixture, 2013, and Suicidal Panels, which came out in 2017.
He wrote other novels in 2014, such as The Cities of Death and The Homeland Crash. He later published Crime on Facebook and Adam Sammy Moore in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and The Jewish Bath and The Aging of Baghdad in 2017.
Editing by Nadia Riva