Moral policing has resulted in the killing of at least 90 teenagers in Iraq during the last month, as they were stoned to death over the ‘charges’ of ‘emo appearances’, reported Al-Arabiya, an Arab news channel.

The killings by religious police for having the haircuts has alarmed human rights activists, who told the Cairo-based al-Akhbar daily that at least 90 Iraqi teenagers had so far been stoned to death by the Moral Police in the past month.

The violent crackdown against the ‘emo’ teenagers came after the Iraqi interior ministry declared them as ‘devil worshippers’.

“The ‘Emo phenomenon’ or devil worshiping is being probed by the Moral Police who have the approval to eliminate it as soon as possible since it’s detrimentally affecting the society and becoming a danger,” according to a statement by the interior ministry.

“They wear strange, tight clothes that have pictures on them such as skulls and use stationery that are shaped as skulls. They also wear rings on their noses and tongues, and do other strange activities,” the statement added.

The statement said Iraq’s Moral Police was granted approval by the Ministry of Education to enter Baghdad schools and pinpoint students with Western appearances. According to other media reports, the working of Moral Police is not clear yet, as rights activists say religious extremists caught onto the interior ministry statement, and had been harassing and killing teenagers with ‘strange’ or “emo” appearances.

The activists said a group of armed men dressed in civilian clothing led the teenagers to secluded areas a few days ago, stoned them to death, and then disposed their bodies in garbage dumpsters across the capital, Baghdad. “First they throw concrete blocks at the boy’s arms, then at his legs, then the final blow is to his head, and if he is not dead by then, they start all over again,” one person who managed to escape told the daily.

The exact death toll remains unclear, but Hana al-Bayaty of Brussels Tribunal, an NGO dealing with issues in Iraq, says the current figure ranges “between 90 and 100.”

Activists said leaflets were distributed in Baghdad warning teenagers from donning the ‘emo’ style, and in some regions, teenage homosexuals were killed by battering their heads also by concrete blocks.

The armed men are said to belong to ‘one of the most extremist religious groups’ in Iraq.

“What’s most disturbing about this is that they’re so young,” Hana said, adding that the killings apparently had been carried out by extremist Shia militias in mostly poor Shia neighborhoods and said she suspected “there’s complicity of the Ministry of Interior in the killings.”

A young man with long hair expressed alarm at the government-ordained harassment of teenagers with Western appearances.

“I have long hair but that doesn’t mean I’m an emo. I’m not less of a man if I have long hair. Let’s not say that if I have long hair, I’m a homosexual, but I have long hair because this is my style, this is me,” he told Iraq’s Al-Sharqiya television network.