More News On The Killing Of Gays & Emos In Iraq

Blogger-image--986310967New developments re: the killings of gays and/or emo kids in Baghdad …

The New York Times has settled the question raised in my last post on the subject: Why were the reports of "emo" killings in Reuters so similar to the report of gay killings from the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission? It seemed initially as though the killings of one group might have been mistaken for the other. But that's not the case. Shiite death squads are killing both gays and emos, and they're doing it in exactly the same way: Posting warning fliers (pictured at right) in Shiite neighborhoods, warning the offending gays/emos that they have four days to repent, ship out, or otherwise remove themselves from harm's way; and then beating them to death and dumping their bodies in the streets.

From the Times:

… in the past two weeks, officials had found the bodies of six young men whose skulls had been crushed. Reuters reported the toll to be 14 or more, citing hospital and security officials, while rights groups say that more than 40 young men have been killed, but have provided no evidence for this figure.

Human rights advocates say the threats and violence are aimed at gay men and at teenagers who style themselves in a uniquely Iraqi collage of hipster, punk, emo and Goth fashions. The look, shorthanded here as “emo,” has flourished on Baghdad’s streets as an emblem of greater social freedom as society has begun to bloom after years of warfare. But it has drawn scorn and outrage from some religious conservatives, and is often conflated with being gay.

… over the past month, threatening letters began appearing in Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents said.

One of the fliers, scanned and posted online, addresses dozens of gay men by name and nickname. It warns people identified as Japanese Haider, Allawi the Bra, Mohammed the Flower and others: Reform your behavior, stop being gay, or face deadly consequences.

“Your fate will be death if you don’t quit doing this,” one leaflet warns. “Punishment will be tougher and tougher, you gays. Don’t be like the people of Lot.”

Another flier circulating around the Zayouna neighborhood appears addressed to emo youths. It tells them to cut their hair, not to wear the clothing of devil worshipers, and not to listen to metal, emo or rap music. And if they refuse, “God’s punishment will be come down upon you and to be carried out by the mujahedeen,” the letter says. “Forewarned is forearmed.”

The Times describes "fear rippling" through the underground clothing stores where hip kids congregate to buy their outfits; terrified young people who've cut their hair and changed their wardrobes. The Times reporter, Jack Healy, sat with four gay friends who spoke of being heckled by passersby who screamed "Block! Block! Block!" — the word referring to the death squads' weapons of choice: Blocks, rocks, and bricks. 

It is still unclear if the murdered young person pictured in my last post was gay, emo, neither, or both, but Healy has identified him: Saif Raad Asmar Abboudi, of Sadr City. He was 20. 

Meanwhile, GayMiddleEast reports possessing evidence that the Iraq government has possession of a list of at least some of the young people being targeted by death squads. Nevertheless, the youths have not been provided police protection. 

Any action taken in the face of this horribleness will necessarily feel like weak medicine, but one can at least hit up the website of the LGBT rights organization All Out and sign this letter to world leaders, asking them to pressure the government in Baghdad to do something. 


  1. JC says

    I’m glad this is finally getting some mainstream coverage. I hope that it will get more.

  2. Rin says

    From the safety of the US sometimes we do things with all the best intentions of the world, hoping to do some good in the only way that we know how.

    I’m not suggesting that anyone do, or not do, anything aside from considering the culture and environment.

    Iraq was invaded and occupied by US troops. The secular nation was destroyed by war and, as usual, people when robbed of wealth fall back upon religion and custom to give them strength.

    Do you feel that the Iraqis will see a petition from gay and lesbian Americans as a welcome thing or as another western intrusion into their way of life? They, just as Russia has done, have that option of going the opposite way as not only an indication of cultural pride but also a measure of autonomy.

    The US has had a democratic culture for over 400 years (the colonists had state legislatures) that promotes secular government. We are used to getting our way by appeals, petitions, sit-ins, boycotts, etc. Our religions, though powerful in a lobbyist sort of way, have been defanged as far as their influence on law as we have seen by courts throwing out religiosly made laws. Because black, handicapped, women’s, and GLBT rights have advanced so quickly in the last decade we believe there is some global revolution that needs only a push from the mighty hand of the liberal United States.

    I would be careful playing with the lives of other people. As much as I desperately wish to better the lives of women in these counties–who have it as bad, if not worse than gay men–too much pressure can have the opposite effect.

    The Iranian Revolution is proof of that. The Shah’s liberalization policies forced in a traditionalist government that women are now forced to stomach to this day.

    I’m not saying don’t sign a petition, nor am I saying to sign it. I’m suggesting that people think about the culture they are trying to influence and how they might go about it in such a way as to protect those who live under such cruelty. They last thing you want is a witch hunt for gay men that ends in stonings.

  3. giantslor says

    Not only is the government not helping, but it was the ministry of interior who condemned these youths in the first place and gave authority to the death squads to carry out these acts.