“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 and body piercings.
While they are sometimes stereotyped as “gay,” to Iraqis, “emos” are widely synonymous as such and were targeted by extremist groups who smashed their heads with concrete blocks early this year.
In March, Hana al-Bayaty of Brussels Tribunal, an NGO dealing with Iraqi issues, said the current figure of “emos” killed in Iraq ranged “between 90 and 100.”
But for local hairdressers, who have witnessed a change in style among their extremist customers in the eastern province of Diyala, an “al-Qaeda emo” has started circulating as a joke, according to Al-Sumaria News.
The transformation is viewed as a “positive change,” by a Diyala-based hairdresser known as Abu Salah.
For Abu Salah, Qaeda extremists have targeted hairdressers in the past but now they are seeking their artistic expertise.
Another hairdresser, Ahmad Jassem Wahab, from the capital city of Diyala, Baquba, sees that some youths pledged their allegiance to Qaeda just because they wanted to carry guns.
Wahab said these transformed youths are now back to their “normal lifestyle.” He estimated that 20 percent of his customers were with the armed militias and have since decided to follow an “emo” lifestyle.