Taliban bans shaving beards in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, barbers report shift back to conservative cuts
Taliban local officials have issued a ban on shaving beards in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, local media have reported.
- The Taliban has reportedly banned the shaving of beards in at least one Afghan province
- After the Taliban’s ousting in the early 2000s, being clean-shaven was often considered a sign of modernity
- Economic pressure and fear of the regime means less people are requiring the services of barbers
The Taliban’s director of information and culture, Hafiz Rashed Helmand, told local daily newspaper Etilaatroz that the decision was made by the Taliban’s religious police during a meeting with barbershop owners in the province.
An official letter issued by Taliban authorities has been circulating on social media, in which Taliban officials in the province warned barbershops of consequences if it is proven that they have shaved someone’s beard.
Quiffs, mohawks, and crew cuts were hairstyles Herat barber Nader Shah was accustomed to styling for image-conscious young men.
But since the Taliban swept to power last month, Afghans have little cash to spare and fear being punished for sporting short or fashionable cuts.
“Before, people came and asked for different hairstyles, but it’s simply not like that anymore,” Mr Shah said.
During the Taliban’s first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, the hardliners banned flamboyant hairstyles and insisted men grow beards.
After they were ousted, being clean-shaven was often considered a sign of modernity, including in the relatively cosmopolitan western city of Herat.
“Now people come here and they only ask for simple cuts,” Mr Shah said.
“They also don’t shave their beards, so it’s a problem now.”
‘Make themselves look like the Taliban’
Since the Taliban overthrew the internationally-backed Afghan government last month, it has imposed gender-based segregation on university classes and prevented women from working in public.
In addition, girls are not allowed to attend school beyond sixth grade.
In Herat over the weekend, the Taliban displayed the bodies of four men it alleged were kidnappers.
Mr Shah, who has been in the barbering business in Herat for 15 years after starting as a young apprentice, said an economic downturn had caused his daily earnings to plummet from $15 to between $5 and $7.
In the next neighbourhood, Mohammad Yousefi, 32, said he had to dramatically lower his prices — from $6 a cut to just $1 — to keep his shop running.
“Because of the Taliban situation, customers have less income and they pay us less,” he said.
Yousefi said that after the Islamist hardliners took control of the country, “suddenly people like to make themselves look like the Taliban”.
“It’s not like the Taliban are fashionable, 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 that men should have beards and long hair.”