It used to be that punk ruled the roost when it came to
defiance against oppressing elites. It usually worked if
you didn't say it to their faces.
Often, it was just another fashion contest.
However, in some countries unaccustomed to punks
edginess, it can all go wrong.
When the Exploited said 'Punks Not Dead', they had
never been to Iraq, where "emo punks" are now dying thanks
to the Western delivery of democracy out the barrel of
All's well that punks well?
Not in Iraq.
Here's what punk is supposed to be. short, sharp, shocking:
Punk rock … alive and kicking in a repressive state near you
Punk rock is ancient history here, but elsewhere disaffected young people are discovering its anarchic energy – despite the enormous risks they face from their oppressive regimes
The Guardian, Saturday 17 March 2012
...First, then, to Iraq, and news that will surely warm the heart of anyone who still believes the US and Britain attacked that country to introduce it to the wonders of democracy and tolerance. Last weekend, Reuters reported that at least 14 young people had recently been stoned to death in Baghdad, thanks to "a campaign by Shi-ite militants against youths wearing Western-style 'emo' clothes and haircuts".
For the uninitiated, "emo" is short for "emotional hardcore", and refers to a music and dress-code traceable to a variety of punk invented in Washington DC in the mid-1980s, lately smoothed out and rendered massively lucrative by such teenage favourites as Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco and Paramore. In February, the Iraqi interior ministry said it equated "the 'emo' phenomenon" with satanism, and warned of young people who "wear tight clothes that bear paintings of skulls" and favour "rings in their noses and tongues as well as other weird appearances". The same ministry has since denied that emo had anything to do with the killings, claiming that "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."
One thing is definitely true: figures for emo-related killings are blurring into those for homophobic murders (put at up to 58 in the last six weeks alone), reflecting a widespread perception in Iraq that emo is a byword not just for devil-worship, but homosexuality. A leaflet distributed in east Baghdad gave any local emo fans four days to "leave this filthy work", under pain of "the punishment of God … at the hand of the Mujahideen". At least two lists of intended victims have been posted online, and tattoo parlours in the city have reported terrified young people asking for their punk-esque body-art to be removed.
...The first wave of Indonesian punk stretched from 1990 to 1995, and saw the arrival of groups called Submission, Antiseptic and the elegantly named Dickhead. It was sparked by records by such British punk groups as the Sex Pistols and the Exploited, a Scottish band whose take on punk could charitably be construed as somewhat reductive (older readers may remember their debut album, Punks [sic] Not Dead, and their only performance on Top of the Pops in 1981, much discussed in British schoolyards the following day).