Up to 58 ‘emo’ Iraqi teenagers have been bludgeoned to death or shot in the last month, according to a report by CBS News based on estimates from officials and human rights groups. It’s not clear why the rate of attacks has increased, but a statement from Iraq’s Interior Ministry accused unidentified gangs of carrying out the horrific attacks. No arrests have been made.
While ‘emo’ suggests dyed hair and Taking Back Sunday t-shirts to music fans in the West, in Iraq the term is also used to refer to gay – or gay-seeming – young people. Ali al-Hilli, chairman of Iraqi LGBT, a human rights group that provides safe houses for gay Iraqis, said the wave of violence is being encouraged by conservative Muslim clerics. “The police do not provide protection for them,” he said.
A bizarre statement on an Iraqi government website, quoted by the Daily Telegraph, read: “The ‘emo phenomenon’ or devil worshipping is being followed by the Moral Police who have the approval to eliminate it as soon as possible, since it’s detrimentally affecting the society and becoming a danger.
“They wear strange, tight clothes that have pictures on them such as skulls,” it continued. “They also wear rings on their noses and tongues, and do other strange activities.” A government spokesman said the statement had been misinterpreted, but Baghdad locals have reported threatening fliers being posted across the city containing the names of targeted young men.