Wave of attacks against homosexuals in Iraq after Ayatollah al-Sistani issued fatwa calling for the execution of gays in the “worst, most severe way”
Author: Jerome Taylor
Source: The Independent (London), May 5, 2006
Original title: Execution of Iraqi teenager adds to surge of homophobic attacks
Human rights groups have condemned the “barbaric” execution of a 14-year-old boy, who, according to eyewitnesses was shot on his doorstep by Iraqi police for the apparent crime of being gay.
Ahmed Khalil was shot at point-blank range after being accosted by men in police uniforms, according to his neighbours in the al-Dura area of Baghdad.
Campaign groups have warned of a surge in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias in the wake of an anti-gay and lesbians fatwa issued by Iraq’s most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Ali Hili, the co-ordinator of a group of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq said the fatwa had instigated a “witch hunt of lesbian and gay Iraqis, including violent beatings, kidnappings and assassinations.”
“Young Ahmed was a victim of poverty,” he said. “He was summarily executed, apparently by fundamentalist elements in the Iraqi police.”
Neighbours in al-Dura district say Ahmed’s father was arrested and interrogated two days before his son’s murder by police who demanded to know about Ahmed’s sexual activities.
It is believed Ahmed slept with men for money in a bid to support his poverty-stricken family who have since fled the area fearing further reprisals.
The latest killing is just one of a series of alleged homophobic murders, amid mounting evidence that fundamentalists have infiltrated government security forces to carry out homophobic murders while wearing of police uniforms.
Human rights groups are particularly concerned that the Sadr and Badr militias, both Shia, have stepped up their attacks on the gay community after a string of religious rulings since the US-led invasion calling for the eradication of homosexuals.
Grand Ayatollah Sistani recently issued a fatwa on his website calling for the execution of gays in the “worst, most severe way.”
The powerful Badr militia acts as the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) which counts Ayatollah Sistani as its spiritual leader. Another fatwa from the late and much revered Ayatollah Khoei allows followers to kill gays “with a sword, or burn him alive, or tie his hands and feet and hurl him down from a high place”.
“According to our contacts in Baghdad, the Iraqi police have been heavily infiltrated by the Shia paramilitary Badr Corps,” said Mr Hili.
Mr Hili, whose Abu Nawas group has close links with clandestine gay activists inside Iraq, also said US coalition forces are completely unwilling to try and tackle the rising tide of homophobic attacks in Iraq. “They just don’t want to upset the Iraqi government by bringing up the taboo of homosexuality even though homophobic murders have intensified,” he said.
A number of highly public homophobic murders by the Badr militia have terrified Iraq’s gay community. In September last year, Hayder Faiek, a transsexual Iraqi was burnt to death by Badr militias in the main street of Baghdad’s al-Karada district. In January, suspected militants shot another known gay, 27-year-old Ammar, in the back of the head.
The US State Department has yet to document the surge in their annual human rights reports. Iraq’s neighbours, however, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are often criticised for their persecution of gays.
Darla Jordan, from the US State Department said: “The US government continues to work closely with our Iraqi partners to ensure the protection of human rights and the safety of all Iraqi citizens.”