At least 14 young people have been stoned to death in Baghdad in the past three weeks in what appears to be a deliberate campaign by Shi'ite militants against kids wearing clothing and hairstyles associated with the emo subculture in the Western world. The subculture is widely perceived in Iraq as both gay and an expression of Satanism.
According to a report from Reuters, militants in Shi'ite neighborhoods where the stonings have occurred circulated pamphlets on Saturday morning naming at least 24 more youths who will be targeted for death if they do not change the way they dress. "We strongly warn you, to all the obscene males and females, if you will not leave this filthy work within four days the punishment of God will descend upon you at the hand of the Mujahideen," the pamphlet read.
The majority of the youths who have been attacked have died from severe skull fractures after being beaten with rocks and bricks. A handful, including two girls, have been wounded in assaults meant to be taken as warnings.
This wave of violence against emo kids is part of a larger trend in the region in which as many as 58 Iraqis who were either gay or believed to be gay have been bludgeoned to death with rocks in the past six weeks. It is unclear why attacks against gays have boomed in recent weeks, though spikes in attacks have happened before, particularly in a boom of hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009.
Photos: Random Notes
Iraq's leading Shi'ite clerics have condemned the attacks. Abdul-Raheem al-Rikabi, the representative for Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, Ali al-Sistani, dismissed the killings as "terrorist attacks," and Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shi'ite cleric who has described the emos as a "plague on Muslim society," has insisted that the youths be dealt with through the law.
Iraq isn't the first place where members of the emo subculture have been targeted. Back in 2008, emo kids were targeted in a wave of assaults in Mexico.