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Monday, 19 March 2012

Emo and LGBT murders in Iraq

Many of you who also read Siouxsie Law may already have been aware of the shocking news that teenagers in Iraq - reportedly an approximate 100 - have been murdered by militia for their mode of dress or their sexuality. Members of the LGBT community and those who wear emo fashions have been targeted. Some have also been reported kidnapped or tortured.

Posters had been seen on streets and cafes in Baghdad containing threats to young people belonging to such groups, according to Gay Middle East. An Iraqi blogger says that the threatening messages told teens that they had four days to change their behaviour.

Eyewitness accounts mention horrific violence being used against the teenagers, including beating them to death with concrete blocks and pushing them from the tops of tall buildings. An LGBT activist claims that five youths who survived the attacks were subsequently murdered as they lay in their hospital beds.

More frightening still is that these attacks are apparently sanctioned by the Iraqi Interior Ministry's community police. The director, Colonel Mushtaq Taleb Muhammadawi, said to the Iraq News Network, "Research and reports on the emo phenomenon has been conducted and shared with the Ministry of Interior which officially approves the measures to eliminate them."

UK newspaper the Guardian says, "Starting last year, mosques and the media both began raising the alarm about youthful immorality, calling the emos deviants and devil worshippers. In early February, somebody began killing people. The net was wide, definitions inexact. Men who seemed effeminate, girls with tattoos or peculiar jewellery, boys with long hair, could all be swept up. The killers like to smash their victims' heads with concrete blocks.

"There is no way to tell how many have died: estimates range from a few dozen to more than 100. Nor is it clear who is responsible. Many of the killings happened in east Baghdad, stronghold of Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (the League of the Righteous). Neither, though, has claimed responsibility. Iraq's brutal interior ministry issued two statements in February. The first announced official approval to "eliminate" the "satanists". The second, on 29 February, proclaimed a "campaign" to start with a crackdown on stores selling emo fashion."

This blogger (link contains graphic images of the victims, please be warned), who wrote the above-quoted article, has more information on those targeted during the recent attacks - many victims are not what we in the West might think of as 'emo' but were simply sporting hair gel or skinny jeans - and says, "One thing that strikes me in reading about Emos is how much other adolescents target them for bullying in places where the subculture genuinely has flourished, like the US. Emo style (unlike the comparatively hard-edged cynicism of goth) emphasizes open emotional vulnerability coupled with a certain nervy fearlessness in displaying it. You can see how, in a society with repressively stratified gender roles like Iraq or high school, this would be a comprehensive recipe for not fitting in. Boys aren’t supposed to be vulnerable at all; girls would face reprisals from more confidently feminist girls for reveling in their weakness, and from boys for the covert, armored bravery with which they reveal it. Equally, you can see how, for those who feel at odds with those gender straitjackets, Emo would be a way to find a community, and an Archimedean point from which to start saying “no.” No one should slight the heroism in that."

From Shafaaq News
Source (another related article worth reading)
Whilst this is only one of many atrocities commited around the world on an appallingly regular basis, I can't help but find it shocking that a subculture like emo, generally viewed in the UK and USA as a 'whiny' teen fad, has in other countries been a target for such a level of violence. Upon reading the article on Siouxsie Law that drew my attention to this terrifying spate of attacks, I was reminded of previous 'anti-emo' riots in Mexico which were highlighted by the Gothic Liberation Front in 2008 (as also mentioned by the Guardian).

In 2008 several hundred people in the city of Queretaro formed a mob and went on an 'emo-bashing' spree. The rioting spread across Mexico, warranting police protection for the youngsters. A video of an emo teen being battered with a brick or rock even ended up on YouTube. The Guardian also mentioned an incident which I was not aware of. Last year in Saudia Arabia emo girls were arrested for 'imitating men'.

It's incredibly distressing that homophobia and alterophobia (fear of 'the other' - that is to say, anything that's different) should lead to such terrible attacks against innocent people - or should I say children - belonging to one of the most harmless modern social groups that exists today. My deepest sympathies are with the families of those who lost their lives to such sickening, senseless violence.

16 comments:

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

This makes me sick.

Amy Asphodel said...

I second that. :-(

Allison Paige Eckfeldt said...

This hurts me soooo deeply inside...I feel helpless... I want to help them!

Bored_Homeschooler said...

That's horrible! It really sucks that stuff like this happens, in this day and age. Makes me want to vomit.

Katherine :) said...

Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

The Black Rabbit said...

This is absolutely horrifying. I wish there was some way to help.

CallaWolf said...

It's terrible that such horrible things can happen to someone just for for being themselves and not wanting to hurt anyone. I wish that such things wouldn't happen as it makes me sick just to think of the hatred people can hold.

akumaxkami said...

That's really horrible.

Nightwind said...

Instead of trying to understand their kids, this is what they're doing to them. I'd like to say that it's unbelievable but it's not. Sadly, this is what closed minds and by default, closed, dogmatic cultures are capable of doing.

Daniel_8964 said...

How sickening is that? Evil in the world makes me angry and sad at the same time. A melancholic rage at its finest.....

ZombieDoll said...

I nearly want to cry of. All of these incidents are very alarming. How far could it go? Doesn't this world call itself as civilized?
Really, that makes me sick too.

Anonymous said...

A thought: While this story is about life thousands of miles from us, the cultures it's about are in our own back yard. While you and your friends are out having fun, try to remember that someone in the place may be going through a living hell to be there. When you see someone that looks or acts differently, try to think about where they're coming from. Something as simple as an approving nod could make their night.

Amy Asphodel said...

Anon - you raise an incredibly good point. I hope that most of us will never know what it's like to be as violently persecuted as those suffering the current situation in Iran, but others have to deal with all kinds of suffering on a daily basis and there is no telling what any individual is going through. Thank you for such a thought-provoking comment.

Einsamer Krieger said...

This world is not such a civilized place as it said in the media.
I personally retreated from Russia which is a red hellhole. It legislated persecution of Goths and other subcultures, officially proclaiming them threat to national security. Hordes of criminals, both uniformed (so-called police) and street thugs feel free to kill, attack and rape subculture followers, while russian nation supports all this, with brutal hatred to all "others".
The best way to stop hate crimes is having .45 mate by your side. All those attacking brutes are subhuman cowards which run away only seeing that would-be victim is armed. Or they will became sidewalk meat.
But repressive regimes like Russia and Iraq already cared about disarming honest people.

Psalms Palmer said...

I cried when I read this. It hurt me so deeply. I do feel helpless for them, everyone there. I wish there was something we could do to help them all.

Melissa Fosler said...

This makes me sick!! It hurt to know that fear of the unknown or misunderstandings lead to this!! I hate to be a cynic, but I don't think much with help them be open minded. :(

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