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.
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.