Over ninety teenagers have been killed in recent months by Iraqi militias who consider them to be devil worshippers, human rights activists claim.
The young people are described as “Emos”, a term used in the West to refer to youths who listen to rock music and wear alternative clothing.
Reports say that up to 58 teenagers have been beaten to death or shot in the last month, most of them men.
Iraq’s interior ministry recently described Emos as devil worshippers.
In Iraq, the term Emo is also conflated with homosexuality, which although legal is socially and religiously taboo.
Militias in Baghdad’s conservative Shia neighborhood of Sadr City have distributed leaflets with the names of 20 young people they say should be punished.
In a statement on his website, Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr described Emo youths as “crazy and fools”, but said they should be dealt with within the law.
“They are a plague on Muslim society, and those responsible should eliminate them through legal means,” he said.
Over ninety teenagers have been killed in recent months by Iraqi militias who consider them to be devil worshippers, human rights activists claim
Mustafa, a young Iraqi, said he feels “threatened” when he wears black clothing.
“The Iraqi people look at you in a bad way,” he said.
“It is even worse when the Iraqi security for example arrest those in black or in the Emo groups.”
The interior ministry said it had not recorded any anti-gay or anti-emo killings, but said recent murders in Baghdad could be attributed to “revenge, or social, criminal, political or cultural reasons”.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in New York, told Agence France Presse that nearly 40 people have been kidnapped, tortured or killed in Iraq since February in a “new surge of anti-gay violence”.
What is “Emo”?
Described as both a cult and sect, its name derives from the word “emotional”.
Its teen followers dress in black, favoring tight jeans, T-shirts, studded belts and sneakers or skater shoes.
Hair is often dyed black and straightened, and worn in a long fringe brushed to one side of the face.
Music also plays a critical role, Emos like guitar-based rock with emotional lyrics – bands such as My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World, and Dashboard Confessional are particular favorites.
They regard themselves as a cool, young sub-set of the Goths.
With the trend come accusations of self-harming and suicide – something its followers strongly deny.
At least 50 people have been killed and more than 70 have been injured in bomb attacks in southern Iraq and in the capital Baghdad.
Provincial officials said at least Shia pilgrims died in a suicide attack near the city of Nasiriya.
Earlier, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said at least 24 people were killed in blasts in Shia areas of Baghdad.
The attacks come amid a rise in sectarian tensions after the last US combat troops withdrew in December.
The head of the provincial council in Nasiriya, Qusay al-Abadi, said at least 30 pilgrims were killed and more than 70 injured in the attack near Nasiriya. AFP quoted the official Dhi Qar provincial website as saying the pilgrims were walking to the holy city of Karbala.
At least 50 people have been killed and more than 70 have been injured in bomb attacks in southern Iraq and in the capital Baghdad
The Baghdad attacks occurred during the city’s rush hour and the Interior Ministry says they targeted gatherings in of civilians in the Sadr City and Kadhimiya areas and injured at least 66 other people.
Unnamed officials told the AFP news agency that between 14 and 15 people had been killed when two car bombs exploded simultaneously in Kadhimiya at around 09:00. The Associated Press (AP) said 15 people died in the blasts.
Twelve people had earlier been killed when two bombs were detonated in Sadr City, AP reported officials as saying. It said the first was a motorbike bomb, which exploded near where labourers were gathering to look for work.
It quoted anonymous hospital officials as saying that 30 minutes later a roadside bomb exploded near a tea shop, killing one. AFP quoted security officials as saying nine people were killed and 35 wounded in the Sadr City attacks. Reuters put the toll at 10.
“There was a group of day labourers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars,” a police officer told Reuters at the scene of the first attack.
Iraq’s power-sharing government has been in crisis since an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges two weeks ago. He has denied the accusations against him.
The al-Iraqiyya group, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, is boycotting the assembly in protest. It accuses Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of monopolizing power.
Tariq al-Hashemi is currently in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government, but Nouri Maliki has demanded that they give him up.
“Political leaders fight each other for power, and we pay the price,” Labourer Ahmed Khalaf told AFP at the site of one of the Sadr City explosions.
“How is it our fault if al-Hashemi is wanted, or someone else is wanted?” he asked. “Why should we pay instead of them?”