Taliban ban beard shaving in Afghan province of Helmand, barbers report return to conservative cuts
Local Taliban authorities have banned beard shaving in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, local media reported.
- Taliban have reportedly banned beard shaving in at least one Afghan province
- After the Taliban was ousted in the early 2000s, being clean shaven was often seen as a sign of modernity
- Economic pressure and fear of the regime means fewer people need barber services
Taliban news and culture director Hafiz Rashed Helmand told local daily Etilaatroz the decision was made by the Taliban religious police during a meeting with owners of barber shops in the province. .
An official letter published by Taliban authorities circulated on social media, in which Taliban officials in the province warned barbershops of the consequences if it is proven that they have shaved someone’s beard.
Quiffs, mohawks and crew cuts were hairstyles barber Herat Nader Shah used to style for young, self-conscious men.
But since the Taliban came to power last month, Afghans have little money to spare and fear punishment for wearing short or trendy haircuts.
“People used to come and ask for different hairstyles, but it’s just not like that anymore,” Shah said.
When the Taliban first came to power from 1996 to 2001, hardliners banned flamboyant hairstyles and insisted that men grow beards.
After their ouster, being clean shaven was often seen as a sign of modernity, including in the relatively cosmopolitan western city of Herat.
“Now people come here and ask for simple cuts,” Shah said.
“They don’t shave their beards either, so that’s a problem now.”
“Make yourself look like the Taliban”
Since the Taliban toppled the internationally-backed Afghan government last month, they have imposed gender segregation in college classes and barred women from working in public.
In addition, girls are not allowed to attend school beyond the sixth grade.
In Herat over the weekend, the Taliban exhibited the bodies of four men they claimed to be kidnappers.
Mr Shah, who has worked in the barber industry in Herat for 15 years after starting as a young apprentice, said an economic downturn had caused his daily income to drop from $ 15 to between $ 5 and $ 7.
In the nearby neighborhood, Mohammad Yousefi, 32, said he had to cut prices considerably – from $ 6 off to just $ 1 – to keep his store running.
“Due to the Taliban situation, customers have less income and pay us less,” he said.
Yousefi said that after Islamist extremists took control of the country, “suddenly people like to pretend to be the Taliban.”
“It’s not like the Taliban are all the rage, but people don’t shave their beards because the Taliban will stop and ask them about it,” he said.
“They say it’s not in Sharia law and men should have beards and long hair.”
AAP / AFP