BAGHDAD — The young man turns to the camera and pleads with his tormentors.
"I’m not a terrorist," he tells the Iraqi police who surround him. "I want you to know I am different. But I am not a terrorist."
To some fundamentalist Iraqi Muslims, Ahmed Sadoun Saleh was worse than a terrorist.
He was gay. He wore his hair long and took female hormones to grow breasts. Amused by his appearance, Iraqi police officers stopped him in December at a checkpoint in a southern Baghdad neighborhood dominated by radical Shiite militias. They groped Saleh and ridiculed him.
The assault was captured on video and circulated on cellphones throughout Baghdad, says Ali Hili, founder of London-based Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to protecting Iraq’s gays and lesbians. Shortly after the video was made public, Hili says Saleh contacted him, fearing for his life, and asked for his help to flee Iraq.