According to activists in Iraq, religious police, last month, stoned to death at least 90 teens for sporting "emo" haircuts after the Iraqi interior ministry declared they were "devil worshippers".
“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,” a statement by the Interior Ministry said.
“They wear strange, tight clothes that have pictures on them such as skulls and use stationery that are shaped as skulls. They also wear rings on their noses and tongues, and do other strange activities,” the statement added.
The statement said that Iraq’s Moral Police was granted approval by the Ministry of Education to enter Baghdad schools and pinpoint students with Western appearances.
The activists told the newspaper that a group of armed men dressed in civilian clothing led the teenagers to secluded areas a few days ago, stoned them to death, and then disposed their bodies in garbage dumpsters across the capital, Baghdad.
“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 by then, they start all over again,” one person who managed to escape told the daily.
The exact death toll remains unclear, but Hana al-Bayaty of Brussels Tribunal, an NGO dealing with Iraqi issues, said the current figure ranges “between 90 and 100.”
Activists said that leaflets were distributed in Baghdad warning teenagers from donning the “emo” style, and in some regions, teenage homosexuals were killed by battering their heads also by concrete blocks.
For those who aren't familiar with the "emo phenomenon", "emo" (emotive hardcore) is an angst-ridden rock music genre, with roots in 1980s punk, along with its requisite lifestyle requirements including fashion and behaviour. You know that androgynous look, the dyed-black straightened hair with the bangs swept across the eyes? Not without controversy, emo has been associated with self-injury, depression and sometimes suicide. But devil worshipping? No. Though some satanists might be into emo, it's not a part of the emo subculture. And for all the dangers that might accompany that particular lifestyle, they're more of a harm to themselves than to others. Stoning to death kids that are into some stupid fad? Barbarism at its worst.
Another country taking steps backwards that we wasted our time on.
News of the killings has caused quite a stir in Iraq, including some who agree with the stonings, some who are outraged, and yet others who claim the story is a media fabrication.
“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.
And a petition to bring to justice the Interior Minister who authorized the stonings.