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Wearing Emo Hairstyles Can Get You Killed

Pete Wentz

Wearing Emo Hairstyles Can Get You Killed

As crazy as it may sound to some, according to Reuters, at least 14 youths have been stoned to death in Baghdad over the past three weeks due to their hairstyles and Western-style clothing.

The style which was under attack is known as the Emo style.  In a campaign launched by Shi'ite militants, youths wearing Emo haircuts and fashions were the targets.

Ironically, this is not the first time that the Emo movement, which is very controversial has triggered violence.

What Is Emo?

Emo is often referred to as short for emotional.  It has a popular stereotype of being linked to emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden people and behaviors.  On the negative side it has also been associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide.

A form of punk music, Emo developed in the United States in the mid-1980s.  The Emo subculture has long been reflected in hair and fashion.  Emo fans and followers are known for their distinctive dress, often including tight slim-fit jeans, sometimes in bright color.

Fashion from the subculture also generally includes tight T-shirts with short sleeves emblazoned with logos from Emo bands.   Studded belts and black wristbands are common accessories as are various piercings.   Skull accessories and some types of tattoos are also used to represent the subculture in some circles.

Some males who adopt the Emo fashion also wear thick, black horn-rimmed glasses as well as distinctive earrings.   Pete Wentz, although tied to a later Emo Pop movement is considered by many to be a past poster boy for Emo hair and fashion.

Emo Hairstyles

The Emo fashion is also recognized for its hairstyles. Popular looks include long side-swept bangs, sometimes covering one or both eyes. Also popular is hair that is straightened and dyed black. Bright colors, such as blue, pink, red, or bleached blond, are also typical as highlights in Emo hairstyles. Short, choppy layers of hair are also common.

This fashion has at times been characterized as a fad. In the early 2000s, Emo fashion was associated with a clean cut look, but as the style spread to younger teens, the style has become darker, with long bangs and emphasis on the color black replacing sweater vests.

Emo Death Warnings In Baghdad

Reporting on the hair related murders in Baghdad, Ahmed Rasheed and Mohammed Ameer reported that the stonings have taken place in Shi'ite neighborhoods where lists are circulated naming youths who are targeted to be killed if they do not immediately abandon the Emo hairstyles and clothing.

Reason For Iraq Attack Of Emo Image

Why is the Emo image under attack?  Last month Iraq's interior ministry labeled the subculture as being Satanic and ordering community police forces to immediately stamp it out.

At least 14 bodies of youths have been brought to three hospitals in eastern Baghdad bearing signs of having been beaten to death with rocks or bricks, security and hospital sources told Reuters under condition they not be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Nine bodies were brought to hospitals in Sadr City, a vast, poor Shi'ite neighborhood, three were brought to East Baghdad's main al-Kindi hospital and two were brought to the central morgue, medical sources said.   Six other young people, including two girls, were wounded in beatings intended as warnings, the security sources said.

"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 al-Kindi hospital told Reuters. "A very powerful blow to the head caused these fractures which totally smashed the skull of the victim."

Iraqi Ministry Claims Emo Related Stonings Are Fabrications

After reports of the stonings circulated on Iraqi media, the interior ministry said this week that no murders on its files could be blamed on the reaction to "emo".

"Many media have reported fabricated news reports about the so-called 'emo' phenomenon - stories about tens of young people killed in various ways, including stoning," the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

"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."

Clerics Denouce Emo Stonings

Iraq's leading Shi'ite clerics have condemned the stoning actions.  Abdul-Raheem al-Rikabi, Baghdad representative for Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, Ali al-Sistani, called the killings "terrorist attacks".

"Such a phenomenon which has spread among young people should be tackled through dialogue and peaceful means and not through physical liquidation," Rikabi told Reuters.

After the demise of Saddam Hussein, most of Baghdad's neighborhoods were under the firm grip of Sunni and Shi'ite religious militias which enforced strict dress codes.  As the militias presence disappeared many Iraqi youths began to experiment with Western styles even though the majority of Iraqi society remains extremely conservative.

Emo Backlash In Other Countries

Although Emo hair and fashions have generated the current news in Iraq, backlash against Emo fans is not new.  The movement has a history of being very controversial.

Time Magazine reported in 2008 that "anti-emo" groups attacked teenagers in Mexico City, Querétaro, and Tijuana.

In Russia, a law was presented at the Duma to regulate emo websites and forbid emo style at schools and government buildings, for fears of emo being a "dangerous teen trend" promoting anti-social behavior, depression, social withdrawal and even suicide.

In May 2010 in Saudi Arabia, the religious police in the city of Dammam arrested 10 emo girls for allegedly offensive un-Islamic behavior and dress.

Now in Iraq there is a real danger of dying for wearing Emo hairstyles and fashions.  Will this trend continue or is it just a temporary reaction by conservatives to the subculture?

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