Baghdad journalism professor shot dead by unknown gunmen

A college professor was assassinated by unknown armed men in front of his house on Tuesday in Baghdad, a local security source said.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A professor at one of the world's oldest universities was assassinated by unknown assailants in front of his house in Baghdad on Tuesday, a local security source said.  

Dr. Mohammed Hussein al-Quraishy, who taught journalism at al-Mustansiriyah University, was shot dead in the capital's Banook neighborhood. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the killing.

“Three masked and armed men blocked the road while al-Quraishy was taking his daughter to the university and shot him,” the source told Kurdistan 24. 

“The professor was shot dead instantly,” added the source, who said the gunmen then immediately “ran off.” 

Usama Jassim, a witness, said, “We heard the shots being fired and when we came right out, we saw the professor covered in blood.”

A statement from the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, a group that Quraishy was a member of, urged that security forces conduct a “transparent investigation” to identify and capture the murderers and hold them responsible. 

A recent spike in the targeting of journalists and activists in response to a mass national protest movement is seen as being perpetrated both by the nation's security forces and also members of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

Taking to the streets in early October, demonstrators expressed long-held grievances about inadequate public services, a low standard of living, and chronic institutional graft. As their demands later grew with each passing week, they ultimately insisted on widespread reform and the ouster of the entire ruling elite who they see as unashamedly corrupt.

The rise in violence has been channeled into assassinations and kidnappings of senior figures that have emerged from the demonstrations, as well as journalists covering them.

Read More: Media rights groups call for probe into death of journalists at Iraqi protests

According to official statistics released in late December, unidentified gunmen have assassinated up to 30 activists, most of whom participated in the anti-government protests.

While the Iraqi government has taken responsibility for some of the killings, allegations have been leveled at Iranian-backed militias of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) for many incidents involving dozens of deaths among protesters and journalists.  

Some PMF militia groups hold considerable influence at Mustansiriyah University and have, at times, openly threatened professors and other staff who voiced opinions or political statements with which they disagree.

Mustansiriyah University was founded in the early 13th century and then again in its modern form in 1963.

Editing by John J. Catherine