Graphic pictures from Iraq’s anti-Emo killing campaign

Two Iraqi friends have sent me graphic photos from Iraqi media of children (at least, they look likely to have been under 18) murdered in the campaign against Emos.

One who wrote me, a young man in Baghdad, writes:

Now they’re using blocks or rocks or hammers in the killing of young people and all kinds of bad people are to be killed on the pretext that we are servants of Satan or Massachin [Christians] —  blood militias run free every day and kill the flower of youth, all of whom are innocent of the charges that tarnish their image. I don’t know what to say because I am afraid and scared and now I am mentally ill because of the fear, and they even control mobile devices now, and external and internal checkpoints [on the surrounding roads and city streets ] are collaborating with the militias for fear of the flight of young people from Iraq or from Baghdad. I appeal to the humanity in you…

Here are two photographs of a corpse, one juxtaposed with the living young man:

The correspondent who sent the following pictures says, “as you can see from the way they are dressed in their pictures, they are not Emo per se. I have been reading reports which indicate anyone who wears a stylish jeans with gel in their hair that represents the west has been identified as an Emo.” (Militias and the Iraqi media used similar markers to identify men who had sex with men back in 2009.) But he adds,  “I have also seen many pictures of young men who have shaved their head and grew their beards just that so they would not be targeted.”

One of the pictures shows the same corpse with a different image of the living boy.

On a different note, I want to add that — though no one has contacted me about this — I should be ashamed if anyone took any remarks I made here about Emos (“strange hair,” “earrings in the wrong places”), in an attempt to impersonate conservative disdain, as serious. I apologize; it’s not kind to let sarcasm, even if directed at the oppressors, spill over to the oppressed.

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. (A comment on an earlier post I didn’t let through, from an IP address in Atlanta, Georgia, read: “Hahahah Gay Emos in Iraq? What the fuck is going on ?? Hahhaah emo iraqis i can’t imagine that shit lol .. we should stick dildos up their asses and fucking set them on fire”). 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.

Iraq is far from the first place to crack down on Emo. In addition to all the school principals who have gone apoplectic, my colleague Brian Whitaker points out that Saudi religious police arrested 10 Emo girls in Dammam in 2010, among other grounds because they were “trying to imitate men.” And in Russia, always reliable for such things, lawmakers in 2008 contemplated a bill to restrict Emo websites and ban Emo coiffures from schools and public buildings. (What headscarves are to the laic French, hairstyles are to religious Muscovy.)

Emo culture’s “negative ideology” may encourage depression, social withdrawal and even suicide, the bill alleges – with young girls being particularly vulnerable. “Of course, there are emo teens who just listen to their music. But our actions are not directed at them but rather at those who also hurt themselves, commit suicide and promote those acts,” bill co-author Igor Ponkin explained to the Moscow Times. Though we are not certain how Ponkin intends to target people who have committed suicide, he certainly seems determined.

There was also angry rhetoric about how the state was losing control of its population: “‘The point of the bill is so that by 2020, Moscow will have someone to rule its government,’ explained Alexander Grishunin, an adviser to bill sponsor Yevgeny Yuryev, apparently without irony.” That, of course, is always part of the point of these panics. They not only reinforce the state’s power, they furnish it a raison d’etre. What better legitimates the repressive side of rule in the hypothesized public’s mind than the defense of custom and the control of deviance? And again and again — as the middle class find that kids, given a little money, will start carving out a dangerous independence — deviance among bourgeois youth turns into repression’s favored object.

The main differences in Iraq are that state urging, or state action, finds a responsive echo among the militias; and that both forces, either dispossessed of or disdaining more delicate methods, prefer the crudity of the gun. The extremity of the solution doesn’t erase the ubiquity of the impulse to repress. The Emos who are dying in Iraq stand up for all of us who, stuck with being different, chose to embrace it. I am ashamed I can do nothing to help, just salute them.

35 thoughts on “Graphic pictures from Iraq’s anti-Emo killing campaign

  1. As horrifying as this is – no matter who has been murdered in this fashion – its sick and awful and must be stopped!!! There is a need for advocacy clearly.
    Yet, I find the presumptions and there are many by you Scott- to be confusing! Are these gay kids or not? Were they targeted for being GAY? These posts started as a response by you to IGLHRC’s report of 40 gay young people being tortured and murdered. You requested that we do not brandish WESTERN labeling irons! Or at least that was my understanding. What are we supposed to be reporting here? Lets forget the intellectualizing for a minute or two and get into the nitty gritty. It would seem from your initial post that you did not want to class these as LGBT killings? So what would you like the LGBT press to do with this?

  2. They were targeted for being gay, or gay-looking, or transgender, or Emo, or for being accused of vampirism. They are not satisfied with murdering adults anymore, so now they spread their religious terror by targeting children.

    Imagine that. Your child goes to school and you never see them again. And you find the body on a rubbish tip. And you have no legal recourse, because the government authorised the senseless and purposeless killing of your defenceless child in a despicable and cruel manner for no justifiable reason. It’s beyond comprehension, it’s simply monstrous. Their EDUCATION DEPT granted them PERMISSION to take children left in their care from schools – and to lead them away and execute them by torture and stoning.

    Little would give me greater satisfaction than to see them shit themselves at the end of a rope. Deliver these monsters in human form into my hands, and Death shall come to them on swift wings. Lamia defendere nobis.

  3. Melanie Nathan’s comment exemplifies exactly what is wrong with the western gay press. Can we put “gay” in the headline or not? The issue is not that complicated. If you read everything that’s been written in the Iraqi press about this, there is little reference to the kids being gay. In the one Arabic article I have seen that does make reference to “men imitating women”, it was part and parcel of a more general concern of what was considered to be youth deviance. This is a moral panic around youth difference and rebellion that is manifesting itself in fear and demonization of everything they deem to look “foreign”, whether it’s gelled spiky hair, long hair, tight jeans, black clothes, skull pendants, a swish of the hip, effeminacy, homosexuality, or listening to rock music. To simply call these killings “gay” is missing the point entirely. As Scott mentioned, there are precedents to this kind of thing in many other places, in which panic about youth gone astray had led to violence against all forms of difference, with queer kids, or queer looking kids, naturally being swept up in it because they look the part. There are deliberate distortions in the western gay press, particularly, where direct translations from Arabic language articles of the word “emo” suddenly became “emo and lgbt” in English. Yes, of course queer or queer looking kids are being targeted, but they are not the only ones.

  4. Gay/lesbian is used as a term of abuse against anyone who does not confirm to the prescribed forms of masculinity/femininity all over the world. It is usually reserved for teens/adolescents. This is far from unique to Iraq. What is horrific is that while in, say London, these kids would be bullied for being ‘gay’, in Iraq they are killed. ‘Are the kids gay or not?’ Maybe some are. Maybe some are not. Who knows? The victims DID NOT self identify. Their identification as gay is done by their aggressors, as a way to identify targets. Championing them as BEING the vary label which allows such violence against them, DOES NOT HELP THESE KIDS. Are these kids gay or not? is NOT a question relevant to their lives.
    Here’s a suggestions: how about the LGBT press saying that homophobia is used to kill off innocents, not just people who self identify as gay? How about the LGBT press saying that how homophobia shuts off any kind of creative self expression? How about the LGBT press, which never fails to educate others on being allies, for once, LIVE the values of BEING good allies?

  5. hope you don’t mind that i’ve copied parts of your blog on mine. your blog is pretty awesome, thanks for providing so much information on this subject. i look forward to future posts – keep up the good work!

  6. Dear readers I’m from Iraq and I’m gay , the term”EMO” in Iraq refers to be a homosexual . it is used by militias to refers to gay people. it’s no matter if you were a truly EMO or not , if they identify you a homosexual they will call you an EMO . and of course will smash your head by a cement block.

    • Than you better leave that evil Irak before you get also killed Here in Holland it’s not a problem to be gay

      • To the person who said “I hope you will get killed”, in what way is this making you a better person? What will his death do? Why is death the answer to you? How could you say this. Everything you are I am against and I hope people like you get whats coming to you (not death but w.e. because I cant wish death on anyone no matter what because we are all human no matter if you’re gay, black, jewish, transgender etc. and everyone deserves a life) But to every “emo” person in Iraq, I hope you have the opportunity to leave and go to a better place where you can be your self and be accepted. No one should have to live like that no matter what. I wish you best of luck and safety!

    • frightening…i’m old enough to remember when it was like that in the US too…it wasn’t that long ago. you are of the generation that will motivate change in Iraq, it will be painful, slow, at times frustrating and hopefully – ultimately successful. good luck to you and be safe.

      • When was it like that in the U.S ? No one smashes cement rocks against gays in the U.S. People don’t agree with that just like I don’t agree that it’s okay to be gay but I’m not going to kill someone because of it. And I don’t hate people that are gay I just think it’s wrong. Gays can be volent over here if they don’t like people telling them that it’s not okay to be gay.

    • This news chills my bones.

      It angers me to think that a government would see its own people as ‘things’ that need to be controlled or destroyed. And that they would allow these ‘witch hunts’ on their young people to continue.

      I wish religions were not so full of intolerance to ‘differences’ in others. Where has ‘Gods’ teachings of unconditional love and acceptance gone?

      Please stay safe and tell your friends to do whatever they need to do to stay safe, too.

      You all deserve to live a life free from fear.

      You will be in my thoughts and prayers until the fear is gone…

  7. It is so terrifying, I can not imagine how cruel should be people to do such…I can not even call them people, they are not animals…just something((( Hope there won’t be any victims.

  8. Pingback: Slachting onder ‘te westerse jongeren’ in Irak |

  9. My advice for GLBT people is to exit Iraq and apply for asylum on the basis of persecution of sexuality in a safer country. Because sadly I can’t see much changing anytime soon.

  10. It’s not about right or wrong it’s about a life. No one has the right to take ones life based on your believes. God did not put you on the earth to judge and play he’s right hand man. Gods gift is life and love! Religion (Human Concept) has caused more harm then anything else.

  11. How can we who are in other countries help the remaining people who are likely to be targets of this insanity. We read about it. We try to spread awareness but the body count goes on. Good people are dieing at the hands of subhuman freaks. Is there anything available for those of us who would like to make a difference? Please don’t let this be a spectator sport where all we can do is stare, stunned by the insanity that is cloaked in religion.

  12. What is wrong with them. Do they feel like there is not enough bloodshed already?! Emo? Gay? Vampirism?
    HOly Cow! Who is the real satanist here, with all these cruel murders?
    Judgement from god? I say conspiracy from the extremists.
    You want to be accepted into this modern world? In your dreams. You are still living in ancient mindset!
    What are education for? Nothing, it goes down the drain!
    What are liberals if you intend to stone people, teens, young adults for they have dressed themselves in their own style.
    Satanism? Do you see them do rituals and have sacrifices on their altar? Do you see them worship the devil? NO. THe answer is NO!

  13. I read about this yesterday. It makes me absolutely sick. They’re just children. It literally brings tears to my eyes. I don’t care what you look like or who you love, NO ONE deserves to die like this.

  14. Pingback: Stenad till döds….. | blogghelvetet

  15. Pingback: Más de 50 jóvenes iraquíes han sido asesinados por ser “emos”. ¿Sus razones? Las tenéis aquí:

  16. Pingback: Liberation for This? 'Emo' Teens Being Targeted, Killed in Iraq

  17. Pingback: The Vampyre Connection « SA Vampyre News

  18. Pingback: Emo haircuts suck, but this seems extreme. | milk & honey ~ geeks & gangstas

  19. I can’t believe that some people will go to such drastic measures to try and eraticate a new movement! This screams “power trip” all over it. Not only are they trying to take away their rights as a human being, but they’re trying to take away their rights to think, believe, and do as they please. These twisted sons of bitches seriously need to get their heads out of their asses and smell the flowers. Times are changing and they need to get on the bang wagon. I’m a part of a subculture group and though it has been hard for me to be accepted (even though I live in the US) I wouldn’t have thought that just being different would cause your life to become endangered. I truly hope these bastards are brought to justice for killing innocent kids who are unique in their own way. Who cares if they’re homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered? What harm do they do? It’s painful to see that these people will go to such extreme measures to try and get a point across. If they don’t like the fashions, music, or subculture, they have two jobs; get mad and get over it! This world seriously needs to come to terms with itself so there won’t be anymore innocent, reckless killings, particularly of kids! These idiot bastards need to go AND NOW!!!!
    Unique minds forever!

  20. “The main differences in Iraq are that state urging, or state action, finds a responsive echo among the militias; and that both forces, either dispossessed of or disdaining more delicate methods, prefer the crudity of the gun”

    Not agreed.
    Speaking about russian hellhole, I know it good enough to tell the truth which is different from author said here.
    In modern world it became trendy to be gay or at least praise LGBT, by some unknown reasons without paying a slightest attention to atrocities which happen in nationwide scale at certain countries, as well as reasons of this brutality.
    I am a diehard traditionalist and anti-gay so I will be against mainstream trend once more.
    I was persecuted in damn neo-communist Russia for being a Goth and not russian. Those red subhuman brutes are intended to destroy everyone who does not fit their cattle standards of “common russian” – dirty drunken lowlife imbecile thug, a supporter of KGB dictator Putin.
    When this damn anti-subculture “concept of moral education of youths” was legislated in 2008, entire russian untermensch horde turned their brutal hatred on Goths, Emo, Metalheads, all “others”. Officially proclaiming them as extremists, russian criminal government legislated police brutality and violent street crimes against subcultures. Police which is no more than uniformed criminals in russia, with great enthusiasm joined street thugs in nationwide rampage. Many had fallen victims of this terror; and many was forced to suicide.
    Those criminal bastards are just vile dirty subhuman cowards, who can attack only unarmed victims in no less than 10:1 (attackers:victims) number ratio. This neo-communist spawn, especially their KGB dictator president must be hanged and left dangling for rotting as well as other dictators and their supporters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s