Dozens of Young People With 'Emo' Haircuts, Skinny Jeans Killed in Iraq

Illustration for article titled Dozens of Young People With 'Emo' Haircuts, Skinny Jeans Killed in Iraq

Saddam Hussein is gone, but Iraq remains a deeply conservative nation, and it seems that a haircut can get you killed. Apparently the emo scene is perceived as being gay; and the AP is reporting that as many as 58 Iraqis who were gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks:

To Iraqis, "Emo" is widely synonymous with "gay." John Drake, an Iraq specialist for the British-based AKE security consulting firm, said Iraqi Emos are getting their hair cut so they aren't immediately identified, and therefore targeted, in the wake of the new threats.


On February 13, the Interior Ministry of Iraq declared that the "phenomenon of emo" to be Satanic. The goverment has decided that black clothes, skull-print T-shirts and nose rings are "emblems of the devil." It's ironic that wearing funereal clothing with bones on it could mean actual death for a rebellious teen. An ugly death: The victims in question have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.

The New York Times tells the heartbreaking story of a 25-year-old young man named Mustafah, who was fired last week from a clothing store "because his boss thought his clothing too effete." Now he's unemployed and living in fear.

"What do you see about me that is so wrong?" asked Mustafa, who said he was too afraid to allow his full name to be published. "I'm a normal guy. I wish I could die rather than live like this."

"Emo" and gay kids targeted, killed in Iraq [CBS News/AP]
Fear as death squads hunt Iraq's gays and "emos" [Reuters]
Over 50 'emo' youths reportedly killed by conservative militias in Iraq [NME]
Threats and Killings Striking Fear Among Young Iraqis, Including Gays [New York Times]



There is very little "rocker" culture in the Middle East, and it's often maligned and associated with homosexuality or deviance. "Emo" music or even music subgenres like punk or metal are not popular nor well-known. The most edgy music people were listening to was Nickelback.

Introducing my tattooed, pierced boyfriend was difficult; the fact that my extended family used gay slurs and constantly berated him made it no better, regardless of the fact he's intelligent and witty.

I've heard of similar incidents occurring in Iran as well. There is little exposure to these styles and subcultures, so when left to their own devices, ignorance and hate is more likely to take over. These fears and indiscriminate spitefulness is not unique to Iraq. Institutionalization of this sort is unique.