Iraq's 'Emo' Killings Raise Horror and Religious Debate
Iraqi religious clerics have reacted differently over reports of the killing of dozens of “Emo” teenagers in the country.
Recently, activists rang the alarm over the killing of dozens of teenagers by religious police for donning “Emo” hair styles. “Emo” is a popular culture by some teenagers in many parts of the world and comes from the English word “emotional.” “Emos” use their appearances and type of accessories as a way to express their emotions and to embody their will and their view of life in their behavior. Their way of dressing and use of certain accessories such as piercings is not acceptable by some conservative sections of the Iraqi society, some even brand them as a cult of “devil worshipers.”
The death toll of the total number of “Emo” youth is not clear, but reports of their killings have created a big uproar in Iraq. Hana al-Bayaty of Brussels Tribunal, an NGO dealing with Iraqi issues, said the current figure ranges “between 90 and 100.”
“Emos” are “fools” and “experts must finish them,” the Iraq-based Al Sumaria News TV reported the firebrand conservative cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as saying on Saturday.
But on the other end of the spectrum, one of the most revered Shiite sheikhs in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said on Thursday that targeting “Emo” youth is an act of “terrorism” and a “bad phenomenon for the peaceful co-existence project.”
Another revered Iraqi cleric said in a statement on Friday that the killing of “Emo” teenagers’ in the country was exaggerated and fabricated to serve those of certain anti-religion, government agendas.
The revered Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yakoubi was reported by Al Sumaria News as saying that it should be everyone’s religious duty to advise “Emo” youth.
The cleric said that those who exaggerated the alleged “Emo” killings have a political agenda aimed at tarnishing the image of those who are religious and have problems with the current government.
“Media outlets have published some news on the killing of 'Emo' teenagers in Baghdad and other provinces but did not confirm the authenticity or the correctness of neither the news nor the numbers mentioned.”
While the Egypt-based Al Akhbar newspaper cited statements released by the Iraqi interior ministry saying that it gave permission to religious or moral police to go after “Emo” youth, it denied on Thursday incidents of “Emo” killings taking place and accused the media of fabricating reports.
“The ‘Emo phenomenon’ or devil worshiping is being probed 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,” Al Akhbar cited on Friday the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Iraqi police sources and witnesses said that there were “mysterious” operations targeting “Emo” teenagers. The teenagers were assaulted with concrete blocks to batter their heads, coinciding with reports coming from activists and the Brussels NGO. Activists have also posted pictures online web of dead teenagers with their heads bashed in.
Sumaria News reported police sources as saying that last week, around five “Emos” were killed in Baghdad. Three of those killed on Monday were in the northern capital, and two took place in the more upscale area of Karada.
In other Iraqi provinces police talked of “mysterious” suicides taking place, all of which involved “emo” teenagers.
An official from Babil’s province police department told Sumaria News that “seven suicide attempts took place in the province, from November 2011 and January 2012, two for girls and five for boys.”
Investigation shows that the seven were “emos” who listened to rock music.
“Religion is innocent from such crimes if proven true, and whoever kills a human being outside the legal frame, is guilty of committing a crime against God,” Yacoubi said, emphasizing that behavior of teenagers who are socially deviant should be treated with care.
He reiterated that those behind the news have agendas to estrange people from religion and said the whole uproar is a “made up phobia.”
He also accused the media of plotting against these teenagers by portraying them as “Mossad” agents that intend to spread vice and perversion in society.
Meanwhile, activists took a snapshot pictures of lists that include names of “emo” teenagers, warning them that if they do not leave their “emo” way, they will be murdered.
It is not the first time that oddballs in the Iraqi society were targeted, homosexuals were brutally murdered before.
One man, called Abu Sajat, told Sumaria News that a lot of homosexuals were warned before their killings, adding “there is no doubt that there are serious groups that are intending to kill the “emos”.”
By Dina al-Shibeeb