Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, dubbed “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian” for her provocative presence on social media in the predominately conservative Muslim country, has been strangled to death by her brother in what is being investigated as an “honor killing” in the province of Punjab, the BBC reports. Baloch was 26.
Baloch’s body was discovered Saturday morning after she allegedly argued with her brother Waseem Friday night. “Her father Azeem informed the police that his son Wasim has strangled Qandeel,” Punjab Police spokeswoman Nabeela Ghazanfar told Reuters. “Apparently, it is honor killing but further investigations would reveal the real motives behind this murder.”
Lauded by Pakistani liberals for her social media selfies and often raunchy stunts, Baloch recently moved back to Punjab from the capital city of Karachi after receiving threats due to her online activity.
Baloch’s online persona conflicted with her own family’s conservative beliefs, with her and Wasim reportedly arguing about some controversial photos she recently uploaded, including one of a selfie she took next to Muslim cleric Mufti Qawi, photos she shared with her 123,000 Instagram followers. The selfies, which were captioned with Baloch joking that she and Qawi smoked cigarettes and drank soda together during the holy month of Ramadan, sparked an uproar in Pakistan and are believed to be the catalyst in her murder.
According to the BBC, Wasim is on the run and has not been arrested.
Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, whose documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness who the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject in February, condemned Baloch’s murder.
— Sharmeen Obaid (@sharmeenochinoy) July 16, 2016
“I really feel that no woman is safe in this country, until we start making examples of people, until we start sending men who kill women to jail, unless we literally say there will be no more killing and those who dare will spend the rest of their lives behind bars,” Obaid-Chinoy told the AFP. Hundreds of women are murdered annually in Pakistan in “honor killings.”
Following Baloch’s murder, Pakistani women hit the streets to protest the model’s “honor killing” death.