SULAIMANIYA, Iraq — Kurdish writers and human rights advocates are protesting the torture and slaying of a young journalist, challenging what they say are oppressive restrictions to free speech in a part of Iraq that presents itself as safe and democratic.
The response has been chilling. During a protest here last week against the killing, a text message popped up on the cellphone of the editor of an influential magazine. “We will kill you like a dog,” the editor said it read.
Earlier this month, the journalist, Zardasht Osman, 23, was abducted in the tightly controlled capital, Erbil, then found dead with two bullets in his head on a road near Mosul, 50 miles to the west. Friends say they believe his scathing articles had angered the two autocratic parties that have long run the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north, especially one in which he wondered whether he could rise from his poor circumstances by marrying the daughter of the Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani.
Now his death is underscoring the limits of free expression and igniting angry debate about what issues could cost journalists their lives. Many question whether true democracy can take hold in this corner of Iraq that has been spared much of the violence and instability that has plagued the rest of the country over the past seven years, allowing it to be considered a haven for business and investments.
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New York Times: Killing Taints Iraqi Kurdistan’s Image