Up to 58 Iraqi ‘Emos’ killed in anti-gay hate crimes (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)

Scott Long, a visiting fellow in the human rights program at Harvard University, sent out a link to a blog containing the above photos, which reportedly show one of the victims, left, whose skull was smashed in with a concrete block, right.

LARA JAKES  |  Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Young people who identify themselves as so-called Emos are being brutally killed at an alarming rate in Iraq, where militias have distributed hit lists of victims and security forces say they are unable to stop crimes against the subculture that is widely perceived in Iraq as being gay.

Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone — forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.

A recent list distributed by militants in Baghdad’s Shiite Sadr City neighborhood gives the names or nicknames of 33 people and their home addresses. At the top of the paper are a drawing of two handguns flanking a Quranic greeting that extolls God as merciful and compassionate.

Then follows a chilling warning.

“We warn in the strongest terms to every male and female debauchee,” the Shiite militia hit list says. “If you do not stop this dirty act within four days, then the punishment of God will fall on you at the hands of Mujahideen.”

All but one of the targets are men.

It’s not clear why the killings have stepped up in recent months. Many Iraqis are religiously conservative and have struggled against the western influence that has infiltrated their once-closed society in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Like many places in the Muslim world, homosexuality is extremely taboo in Iraq. Anyone perceived to be gay is considered a fair target, and the perpetrators of the violence often go free. The militants likely behind the violence intimidate the local police and residents so there is even less incentive to investigate the crimes.

Emo is short for “emotional” and in the West generally identifies teens or young adults who listen to alternative music, dress in black, and have radical hairstyles. Emos are not necessarily gay, but they are sometimes stereotyped as such.

Another victim is shown in these photos from the blog, 'A Paper Bird.'

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.

In the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, a mostly-Sunni area, 35-year-old Hassan is afraid to leave his home. He plans on cutting his shoulder-length hair soon, but fears that his hormone-injected breast enhancements will be detected if he is stopped and patted down at one of the ubiquitous security checkpoints across the city.

“Today I went out of my house with a friend but we were severely harassed —some people told us that we need the double blocks,” said Hassan, referring to the cement blocks that attackers use to beat people. “I was scared so we returned home to hide.”

Hassan’s friend, a man who identified himself as 26-year-old Mustafa, called the recent hate crimes “the strongest and deadliest campaign against us.”

Hassan said he is gay but does not consider himself an Emo. He and Mustafa agreed to talk on condition that only their first names be used for fear they would be attacked if identified.

One of Hassan’s friends, Saif Raad Asmar Abboudi, was beaten to death with concrete blocks in mid-February in a case that terrified gay Iraqis and panicked human rights watchdogs. “I feel very sorry for him,” Hassan said.

A Feb. 18 police report all but closes the case on Saif’s killing. It shows an initial investigation was completed and “the reason for the incident is unknown at the moment because the criminal is unknown.”

An Interior Ministry official said 58 young people have been killed across Iraq in recent weeks by unidentified gangs who accused them of being, as he described it, Emo. Sixteen were killed in Sadr City alone, security and political officials there said. Nine of the men were killed by bludgeoning, and seven were shot. No arrests have been made.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as did many of the people interviewed for this article, in fear of violent reprisals.

The Quran specifically forbids homosexuality, and Islamic militias in Iraq long have targeted gays in what they term “honor killings” to preserve the religious idea that families should be led by a husband and a wife. Those who do not abide by this belief are issued death sentences by the militias, according to the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, a human rights watchdog group. The same militias target women who have extramarital affairs.

“There is a strong wave of campaigns by clerics against homosexuals now,” said Ali al-Hilli, chairman of Iraqi LGBT, a human rights group based in London that provides two safe houses in Iraq for gays. “The police do not provide protection for them.”

He said an estimated 750 gay Iraqis have been killed because of their sexual orientation since 2006.

Iraqi lawmaker Khalid Shwani, a Kurd, said targeting Emos because of their alternative lifestyles reflects an a growing intolerance of Iraqis’ civil rights.

“Those people are free to choose what they wear, or to believe in, or how they choose their clothes or the way they think,” Shwani said. He called on parliament to address the issue.

“The Emo of today could be any person tomorrow who tries to follow a specific way of living,” he said.

The killings have drawn so much attention that even hardline Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr weighed in Saturday, calling Emos “crazy fools” and a “lesion on the Muslim community” in a statement on his website.

However, al-Sadr did not condone the violence, telling his followers “to end the scourge of Emo within the law.”

Iraq’s government has been wary about the Emo allure among its youth for months.

An August 2011 letter from the Education Ministry urges schools to crack down on what it considered abhorrent behavior, including allowing camera phones in school “because students would use it for dirty movies,” says the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Similarly, it prohibited students from leaving their classes during school hours “for any reason, because they might gather in the nearby cafes or coffee shops to practice dirty activities.”

The letter attributed the social atrocities to “Emo, which is an infiltrated phenomenon in our society began to appear in some of our schools.”

Iraqi police squads who are specifically assigned to protect social minorities say they are almost powerless to stop the threats against gays and Emos. One officer assigned to the so-called social abuse squads said police are meeting with clerics to ask for help in urging the public against killing what he described as “the Emo or the vampires or Satan worshippers.”

The police official said he had no statistics to show how prevalent the violence is.

“It is true that there have been killings in Sadr City targeting these young men,” he said. “It is not right to end their lives in this manner.”

—  John Wright

Chris Matthews Calls For Senate War Crimes Hearings Over Iraq Invasion

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Your tax dollars at work: contractor hid in Iraq for 7 years to escape rape charge

What a sleazebag. And he was escaping from paying for his heinous crime on your dime. (Mother Jones):

A Norfolk, Virginia, man was arrested on a military base in Iraq and brought back to the States in police custody this weekend for allegedly raping a “juvenile female,” then hiding out in the Middle Eastern nation as a contractor for the US government.

For seven years.

Norfolk police say Daniel Phillips, 46, was wanted in connection for the rape of an underage girl in 2004 and 2005, but when warrants were issued for his arrest, he secured employment as a military contractor in a computer-related position and left for Iraq, where he stayed until authorities started tracking him in December.

…The vetting process to become a contractor in Iraq varies from company to company, but it can be extremely thin. Once hired, these employees are supposed to go through a Contintental United States Replacement Center (CRC), an Army-run military processing facility such as this one in Ft. Benning, Georgia. There, they go through a weeklong medical and background screening, at the end of which they’re issued a microchipped military ID card and put on a military flight to their destination in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or wherever.

But apparently, none of that kept Phillips from staying on as an Iraq contractor for seven years, with military-sanctioned vacation jaunts back to the States, all while authorities sought his arrest.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

KANSAS: Disabled Iraq Vet Arrested For Stalking Westboro Church Members

An 26 year-old veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq has been charged with stalking members of the Westboro Baptist Church after police found him following the Westboro family van in a car stocked with handguns, a rifle, and dozens of rounds of ammunition.

Sedgwick County sheriff’s detectives arrested Newell mid-morning Tuesday in the Wichita City Hall parking lot after a detective saw him following a van that carried Westboro church members. The church members were meeting in City Hall with police officials. Detectives found Newell in a vehicle backed into a parking space. In the vehicle, investigators found two handguns, a rifle and more than 90 rounds of ammunition, sources have said. The stalking charge accuses Newell of actions targeted at Westboro members and putting them in fear for their safety. The weapons charges accuse him of unlawfully carrying and concealing or possessing with “intent to use” an M4 rifle, .45-caliber Glock handgun and .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun.

At Newell’s arraignment several lawyers arrived to offer pro bono defense services, prompting the judge to quip, “The more, the merrier.” Reportedly “many other lawyers” have contacted him with the same offer. Newell, who uses a wheelchair due to difficulties adjusting to Army-supplied prosthetic legs, pleaded not guilty via a video link from his cell. He is being held on 0,000 bond on one felony and several misdemeanor charges. Other charges may be filed pending the result of an FBI search of his home.

Westboro’s Megan Phelps comments on Twitter: “Peacefully protesting institutionalized sin on public sidewalks =\= loading up your car with weapons & lying in wait to commit murder. But somehow, in the totally backward minds of many of you, the former (loving our neighbor) is worse than the latter (planning murder)! Wtf?” Phelps claims that Newell was planning to murder her parents and the 26 children in the Westboro clan.

A defense fund has been set up for Newell via several popular conservative websites. Late this afternoon the Facebook page “Let Ryan Newell Go” was established. Westboro will continue with their planned Hanukkah picket of a Harvard student Jewish group tomorrow.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Watch: Former Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the First Marine Wounded in Iraq, Speaks Out About DADT on Hardball

Alva

Former Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first Marine wounded in Iraq, speaks out about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on Hardball and coming out as a gay man.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

GOProud: The HRC Shouldn’t Care About “Faggot” Because Gays Are Dying In Iraq

“The irony here is stunning. The adults who run HRC are participating in a morally-reprehensible organized political hatchet job on a teenager all in the name of defending the victims of bigotry. Nothing is sacred to these liberal foot soldiers, no one is seen as off limits — not even a 16-year-old girl, and even an issue as serious as anti-gay bullying and teen suicide is treated as nothing more than just another political hammer to be wielded against their perceived enemies.

“The nature of the attacks on Palin reveals much about what motivates her critics. HRC’s press releases are ripe with misogynistic attacks on the Governor. HRC refers to the Governor as a ‘reality TV show star’ — a transparent attempt to diminish Palin’s almost 20 years in politics. In a November 17th release, Joe Solmonese, the man at the helm of HRC, made a thinly veiled accusation that the Facebook exchange somehow showed Palin failed as a mother — ‘Anti-gay language by teenagers often starts at home.’ [snip]

“In the meantime, while the actions of a teenager on Facebook warrant days of over-the-top press releases from HRC, a blind eye is turned by the liberal Gay, Inc. to the growing threat of radicalized anti-gay, anti-women Islam.” – GOProud chairman Chris Barron, in a Daily Caller piece co-authored by board member Tammy Bruce.

Got that? As long as gay people are being murdered by Muslims, we shouldn’t care about hate speech, bullying or any other such trivial nonsense.

RELATED: Last week GOProud announced that calling somebody a “faggot” isn’t homophobic because gay men in WeHo and Chelsea use the word amongst themselves. Shortly before the above-linked Daily Caller piece was posted, the group issued the below tweet.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

'Don't ask don't tell,' gays in the military and 'Blah, blah, blah'

OK, there’s a lot of discussion about this video clip, supposedly made by some U.S. soldiers stationed overseas, and which some folks are saying is intended to take a stand against the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.

Some folks think it’s brilliant satire. Some folks think it’s downright homophobic. Watch it and tell us what you think:

—  admin

Father of fallen Marine ordered to pay Phelps court costs

god-hates-signsAlbert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006, sued Fred Phelps after Westboro Baptist “Church” picketed his son’s funeral. A jury awarded the father a $3 million judgment.

Phelps appealed the ruling and on Friday, an appeals court overturned the judgment based on free speech rights. Snyder was ordered to pay Phelps’ court costs of $16,500.

Snyder has said he has no intention of paying Phelps any money and the Supreme Court agreed today to hear this first amendment case. The competing argument that the court will consider is the privacy and religious rights of mourners.

—  David Taffet

A whole new perspective

Go down to the Cedar Springs strip and ask a few people what issue they think should be at the top of the gay rights agenda. You’ll get a variety of answers, like same-sex marriage rights, protection against discrimination in employment, the right to serve openly in the U.S. military, or the right to adopt children.

Go to any city in Iraq and ask the same question and, if you could find anyone willing to answer, they would be more likely to say the right to not be murdered in the streets for being gay. In fact, you might get yourself killed just for daring to ask such a question.

Attacks on LGBT people in Iraq have been in the headlines for some time now — ever since G.W. sent our military over there to liberate the country from Saddam Hussein. But such attacks are getting even more attention today since the publication yesterday of a report by Human Rights Watch. (Read a BBC article on the HWR report here.)

According to the report, hundreds of gay men have likely been targeted and murdered, since 2004, in what appears to be a coordinated campaign by militias, with the Mehdi Army militia spearheading the campaign and even the police joining in, even though homosexuality is not illegal there. Plus, there are the so-called honour killings carried out by families intent on punishing their own kin in order to avoid public shame.

According to witnesses, vigilante groups break into people’s homes, hauling off those suspected of being gay and interrogating (another word for torturing) them to get them to give up the names of other gays before killing them, then often mutilating the bodies and leaving them on trash piles. And the names of “suspected” gay men and their addresses are often posted on flyers around the cities

I am not saying that we here in this country shouldn’t continue our fight for civil rights. We most certainly do deserve equality, both socially and legally, and we won’t get that if we don’t fight for it.

But as we continue the fight here in our country for the right to legally wed our partners, to adopt children, to serve in the military, to work in discrimination-free workplaces and so on, let’s not forget that our LGBT brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are fighting, quite literally, for their very lives.

—  admin