Saturday, March 10, 2012

Targeting Iraqi youth

The targeting of Iraqi youth continues. Alsumaria TV reports that cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared today that Emo youths were the scourge of society, insane, a dark evil within the Muslmin community and called for their deaths ("finish them off under the threat of law"). Moqtada had been doing so well at looking like the mature one but, as a State Dept friend said last month, "Give him enough time, he'll show his true nature." And he has. Dina al-Shibeeb (Al Araibya) reports on the cleric reaction to Emo youths in Iraq (including Moqtada) and notes that "on the other end of the spectrum, one of the most revered Shiite sheikhs in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said on Thursday that targeting 'Emo' youth is an act of 'terrorism' and a 'bad phenomenon for the peaceful co-existence project'." Cleric Mohammed al-Yaokoubi insists that the Emo targeting and killing is "exaggerated and fabricated." It's a plot, he insists, to serve a non-religious, government agenda. The report notes Al Akhbar reporting Friday sources in the Ministry of the Interior who acknowledged "the approval to eliminate it [Emo youths] as soon as possible since it's detrimentally affecting the society and becoming a danger." AGI adds, "The ayatollah's [Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's] Baghdad delegate Abdul-Raheem al-Rikabi described the stoning as 'terrorist attacks,' adding that while the emo movement may be questionable 'it has to be addressed by way of dialogue and by other peaceful means, not via physical elimination'."

In a report earlier this week on MP Safiya al-Suhail's call for the Ministry of the Interior to investigate the murders of Emo youths, Alsumaria explained, "The word EMO means, in English, the sensitive, emotional or excited. People who comply with EMOs lifestyle follow specific patterns such as listening to rock music, cutting specific haircuts, wearing black tight or loose trousers, and putting wrists covers." Ahmed Rahseed and Mohammed Ameer (Reuters) report today, "At least 14 youths have been stoned to death in Baghdad in the past three weeks in what appears to be a campaign by Shi'ite militants against youths wearing Western-style "emo" clothes and haircuts, security and hospital sources say. Militants in Shi'ite neighborhoods where the stonings have taken place circulated lists on Saturday naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress." Dan Littauer (Pink News) had previously observed, "According to a report by a local LGBTQ activist the first murder occurred on 6 February in Sadr City district in Baghdad, the last was reported on 7 March of two female victims in their 20s from Shaab district of Baghdad."

Paul Milligan (Daily Mail) states, "More than 90 Iraqi students have been stoned to death for their Emo haircuts by religious extremists in Baghdad in the past month after Iraq's interior ministry dubbed it 'devil worshipping'. Iraq's Moral Police released a statement on the interior ministry's website condemning the 'emo phenomenon' among Iraqi youth, declaring its intent to 'eliminate' the trend." And you need to use that link to see the haircut that resulted in one Emo youth's murder -- Orlando Bloom type haircut. As for "eliminate," that's being kind. I know Arabic and term was "liqudate" -- as in Nazi Germany's desire to liquidate the Jews. Dropping back to Monday, March 5th:

In the meantime, the attack on Emo youth or suspected Emo youth in Iraq continues. Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that those with longish hair, suspected of being Emo are being threatened and killed. Grace notes that there are lists of Emo youth (or accused of being Emo youth) publicly displayed in Sadr City, Shula and Kadhimiya with the promise that, one by one, each will be killed. An unnamed official in the Sadr City municipal court states that people have, on their cell phones, the names of young people to "liquidate" because they are Emo. This is beyond insanity and what happens when the US government turns a country over to thugs. And where is Nouri calling this out? Oh, that's right, he's not a leader. Well where's the United Nations? A segment of Iraqi youth is being targeted for "liquidation." That's pretty disturbing.

Eliminate is bad enough, yes, but the term was "liquidate" and that's even worse because it conjures up images of the slaughter of Jews, gypsies and gays and lesbians under the Nazi regime. At Gay Star News, Dan Littauer has an important article which opens:

The Iraqi Interior Ministry knew about the plan to massacre ‘emo’ youths and LGBT people and are complicit in up to 100 killings, new evidence suggests.
Gay Star News can exclusively reveal that Iraqi officials had a list of people who were scheduled for slaughter but did nothing to protect them.
And a new list has been posted, naming future targets from Iraq’s student population with the killings due to start tomorrow (11 March) or Monday (12 March).

Seth Abramovitch (The Atlantic) reviews the coverage here. Emmet Purcell (Ireland's adds:

The disgusting punishment meted out to the teens was detailed by one such teen who managed to escape and spoke to Cairo-based website al-Akhbar:
"First they throw concrete blocks at the boy's arms, then at his legs, then the final blow is to his head, and if he is not dead then, they start all over again."
Another Middle East news outlet, Sumaria News, is today reporting that as many as five 'emos' were killed in Iraqi capital Baghdad last week, while they have also received reports of "mysterious" suicides from similarly attired teens that had occurred in other Iraqi provinces.

If you've followed the coverage this week, especially if you followed it here, you're aware that police and the Interior Ministry were more than happy to talk to Arabic newspapers about what they were doing. It's only midweek when the government finally gets its through its thick head that these killings -- targeting Iraqi youth whether they're Emo or LGBT (or suspected of either or both) -- were hurting Iraq's image around the world and were putting at risk Iraq becoming a travel destination (I'm not the loon that keeps promoting Iraq as a travel destination, but many believe it will happen and the government seriously hopes so), that suddenly they become interested in backing off previous official statements. Which is how you get Nouri al-Maliki's spokeserson Ali al-Dabbagh suddenly interested in the topic.

Please note that waves of attacks on Iraq's LGBT community have taken place since the start of the Iraq War and that the worst one (possibly until now) was in 2009. During that and after that, Nouri and his spokespeople never said one word.

This series of attacks is already getting enough attention that Nouri's office finally has to offer some form of a public statement. Which is why Ali Al-Dabbagh insists today to Alsumaria TV that "there is no prosecution for being part of the phenomena of Emo in this country. That is nothing bu a a lie." Thursday, of course, the Ministry of the Interior was acknowledging to Alsumaria TV that Iraqi youths were being killed.

On the topic of violence, Catholic Online observes, "Some of the armed chaos evaporated as US forces departed, but in its place came fresh violence, this time between religious and ethnic groups. Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Kurds, have all had turns fighting one another over control of territory in the troubled country." Alsumaria reports that Iraqi forces shot dead 2 people in Baghdad ('suspects') and left a third injured and those same numbers repeat for Kirkuk (also 'suspects').

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