Iraqi ‘emo’ kids murdered, but is it different here?

Emo girls and boys in Iraq face more than an upturned nose.  They are being stoned to death.  A representative from an Iraq-issue NGO, said between 90 and 100 young men and women called “emos” were violently killed in the last two months.  While no one has taken responsibility for the murders, the attacks are thought to be a backlash for an increasingly permeating Western culture in Iraq.

Some believe “emo” is synonymous with homosexual, and Iraq has had a record for violence and massacre of gay citizens including executions, kidnappings, and torture of those suspected of being homosexual.

However, the difference today is that women have also been targeted.  Eyewitness accounts report seeing young men and women “bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skills with heavy cement blocks.”

The New York Daily News also reports of a document that circulated to emo youths with the following warning:

“We warn in the strongest terms to every male and female debauchee.  If you do not stop this dirty act within four days, then the punishment of God will fall on you at the hands of Mujahideen.”

According to a Guardian reporter, in February, Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior made two announcements that included phrases such as an approval to “eliminate” and calling emo culture one of “Satanists,” as well as summoning a campaign to crack down on stores selling emo apparel.

In response, human activists groups like the Human Rights Watch have called on the government to investigate the murders, intimidation, and violence in the wake of increasing terror.

Anti-emo is not an Iraqi thing nor is it a new conservative fad, it’s fairly widespread.  Russia played with a law banning emo dress, anti-emo riots in Mexico broke out in the same year.

To understand the madness in which a society collectively condones the systematic slaughter of its children, some might re-examine an early psychological process of scapegoat.

The scapegoat takes on moral insecurities of a community in order for the community to feel it has successfully confronted it’s own wrongdoings or fears. In this situation it is plausible that the fear of Western dominance is personified by rebelling youth.  Their guilt incited by western intervention, struggles in family structure, and social gender changes.

In an ironic twist, American citizens have made many scapegoats of Muslim citizens as well as many other “other” groups over the past couple of decades. Last year, Congressman Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim members of congress, described exclusion and fear of an entire group of people as, “wrong, it’s ineffective, and it risks making our country less safe.”

He also described a 9/11 Muslim first responder and victim who was criticized after his death simply because of his faith.  The bottom line is, any society can rationalize malice towards someone they do not know, any group can suffer social panic.  Scapegoating is no more Iraqi than it is American.

Still, as the Iraqi situation remains clouded in suspicion and fear, some political figures, including members of Iraq’s parliament, have called for a true investigation. Moqtada al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shia leader, has even condemned the murders while onlookers and loved ones of the deceased hope the violence will ease in the coming months.


Mia Greenberg I am a journalism student born in Bolivia and raised in Massachusetts. I love coffee, dogs, and obscure news. Some day I hope to be a documentary filmmaker.

View all posts by Mia Greenberg

2 Responses to “Iraqi ‘emo’ kids murdered, but is it different here?”

  1. Joseph Gentile

    Thanks for bringing the attention that’s so desperately needed to the plight of Iraq’s emo youth. I’ve shared information about this crisis with other friends, admitted “straight allies,” via Facebook and Twitter, only to hear them minimize the situation, saying “they should know better” than to slip into a pair of skinny jeans, or use heavy eyeliner. Unfortunately, that ignorance appears endemic across multiple cultures, as threats to the masculine/effeminate narrative are met with unparalleled violence. Closer to home, Mexican emos have been derisively dismissed as “emosexuals” – a play upon the word “homosexual” that utilizes Spanish’s silent “H” – to justify the homophobic outbursts committed by mobs of other young people:,8599,1725839,00.html

    It might not be your style, but you DO NOT have the implicit right to impose your beliefs upon another person with a cinder block to their skull!

  2. Dezinay Angelique

    For one, it is NOT a wise decision to bash INNOCENT people’s heads in because of their looks. Looks should be of no concern to this situation. There is something called freedom of choice. They CHOOSE to be different, just like people from Iraq do. I am so sick and tired of hearing this crap from Iraq and Russia, the government can kiss my ass. I don’t care about the damn regulations in Iraq or in Russia it is NOT right to kill random people because of their differences. It’s also NOT right to push a label on them such as “emo” they are people. We are all human, they shouldn’t have to suffer just because of your damn religion. Screw the people who have done this!


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