Reports have emerged that so-called “emo” teenagers are being methodically targeted and killed by religious radicals in Baghdad.
According to Al-Akhbar English, activists say at least 90 “emo” teenagers have been stoned to death in the last month following a statement from an Iraqi interior ministry that referred to the lifestyle as “devil worshiping.”
The “emo” trend — an abbreviation of the word “emotional” — originated in the U.S. as a style of punk rock music, and subsequently developed into its own alternative subculture, including with specific clothing styles and behavior, primarily among young people. “Emo” youth generally have distinctive haircuts, piercings and other accessories.
“The ‘Emo phenomenon’ or devil worshiping is being followed by the Moral Police who have the approval to eliminate [the phenomenon] as soon as possible since it’s detrimentally affecting the society and becoming a danger,” a statement posted on the interior ministry’s website said, according to Al-Akhbar English.
It continued: “They wear strange, tight clothes that have pictures on them such as skulls and use stationary that are shaped as skulls. They also wear rings on their noses and tongues, and do other strange activities.”
Religious extremists reportedly heeded the statements and began targeting and harassing teenagers with “emo” appearances.
A group of armed men dressed in civilian clothing led dozens of teenagers to secluded areas a few days ago, stoned them to death, and then disposed their bodies in garbage dumpsters across the capital, according to activists.
The armed men are said to belong to “one of the most extremist religious groups” in Iraq.
“First they throw concrete blocks at the boy’s arms, then at his legs, then the final blow is to his head, and if he is not dead then, they start all over again,” one person who managed to escape told Al-Akhbar.
Iraq’s moral police was granted approval by the Ministry of Education to enter Baghdad schools and pinpoint students with such appearances, according to the interior ministry’s statement.
Al-Arabiya English reported lists have turned up with the names of dozens of teenagers who have been warned that if they don’t drop the “emo” culture they will be murdered.
The publication reported it’s hardly the first time people in Iraq have been singled out for living different lifestyles, with gays having been brutally murdered before.
A man, Abu Sajat, told Sumaria News that gays were warned before they were killed then, too.
“There is no doubt that there are serious groups that are intending to kill the “emos.’” he said, according to Al-Arabiya.
Content warning — disturbing image below: