By Arab News
By Suadad Al-Salhy
A video of an Iraqi member of parliament firing into the air has sparked anger after stray bullets from celebratory New Year gunfire killed a teenage girl.
A further 170 people were either injured by guns or suffered burns from fireworks on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the Iraqi capital, medical and police sources told Arab News.
Public anger over the number of people hurt was already high when a video circulated on social media late on Tuesday evening, showing Wihdah Al-Jumaili, a Sunni MP sitting in her car next to the driver and firing several shots into the air from a Beretta handgun.
Jumaili said she was celebrating the marriage of a friend’s son when the shots were fired. She wrote on Facebook that she shot in the air as “part of tribal practices adopted by tribes in Ramadi,” the capital of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the video shows her car by the side of a highway in Baghdad’s Dorra district.
Shooting in the air is considered an offense under Iraqi law, and punishments range from between one and three years in prison, lawyers told Arab News.
Thousands of Iraqi Facebook and Twitter users expressed their anger at Jumaili, and demanded she be stripped of her MP’s immunity to face prosecution.
Many said her actions encouraged others to break the law and use personal weapons irresponsibly.
Several lawyers filed a written request on Wednesday to Iraq’s attorney general, urging him to launch a prosecution.
Every year, dozens of people are injured or even killed by celebratory gunfire on New Year or during other festivities, or events like weddings.
Hajer Abbas, 14, suffered a head injury from a stray bullet in the Iraqi capital on New Year’s Eve and died from the wound on Wednesday.
Jumaili’s video is the latest in a series of scandals affecting politicians who Iraqis see as behaving as if they were above the law.
Leaked intelligence information this week revealed the brother of the new education minister, Shaimaa Al-Hayali had acted as a leader within Daesh during the extremist’s occupation of Mosul.
Jumaili is a member of the Iranian backed Al-Binna’a parliamentary coalition, which is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the powerful armed Badr Organization.
Political opponents were quick to link her political loyalties to the video.
“This (Jumaili) lawmaker has proved that she belongs to Al-Binna’a bloc, which means the core of action and weapons,” Muqith Dagher, an Iraqi researcher tweeted late on Tuesday.
“Of course, no one will hold them accountable.”