There's some very disturbing news coming out of Iraq: at least 14 teenagers in Baghdad have been stoned to death over the past three months for wearing Western-style "emo" clothes and haircuts, Reuters reports. The BBC now reports that the death toll could be as high as 58.
The attacks appear to be the work of Shiite militants, who, as recently as Saturday, circulated leaflets naming the youths targeted to be killed if they don't change the way they dress to a more traditional Muslim style.
The leaflets read: "We strongly warn you, to all the obscene males and females, if you will not leave this filthy work within four days the punishment of God will descend upon you at the hand of the Mujahideen."
The killings follow a statement by Iraq's interior ministry, which drew attention to the "emo" subculture last month, calling it "Satanism" and ordering a community police force to stop it. The ministry added that it was monitoring "the 'emo' phenomenon," which it said was spreading through schools, particularly among teenage girls.
"They wear tight clothes that bear paintings of skulls, they use school implements with skulls and wear rings in their noses and tongues as well as other weird appearances," the ministry said.
Hospital sources, speaking anonymously to Reuters, said that at least 14 bodies have been brought to East Baghdad hospitals with signs of having been beaten to death with rocks or bricks.
"Last week I signed the death certificates of three of those young people, and the reason for death I wrote in my own hand was severe skull fractures," a doctor at East Baghdad's main al-Kindi hospital told Reuters. "A very powerful blow to the head caused these fractures which totally smashed the skull of the victim."
The interior ministry has responded to accusations that claim their statements are responsible for inciting the murders: "No murder case has been recorded with the interior ministry on so-called 'emo' grounds. All cases of murder recorded were for revenge, social and common criminal reasons."
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