On Monday, Sept. 27, the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand province have banned hairdressers from shaving or trimming beards, claiming it violates their interpretation of Islamic law. Anyone who breaks the rule will be punished.
“Since I have heard (about the ban on trimming beards) I am heart broken,” said Bilal Ahmad, a Lashkar Gah resident. “This is the city and everyone follows a way of living, so they have to be left alone to do whatever they want.”
Conservative Islamists required that men grow beards during the Taliban’s prior tenure. But after the U.S.–led invasion in 2001, shaved or cleanly trimmed beards have been popular in the country, and many Afghan men have visited salons to get stylish haircuts.
Despite assurances of a more moderate government, the orders appear to be a return to the Taliban’s previous strict rules from 1996 to 2001.
On Saturday, Taliban fighters executed four alleged kidnappers and then hung their bodies in the public squares of Herat in western Afghanistan to deter others.
According to the BBC, Taliban officers informed hairdressers in southern Helmand province that they must obey Sharia law for haircuts and beards in a notice displayed at salons.
“If anyone violates the rule (they) will be punished and no one has a right to complain,” said the order. However, it was unclear what consequences the barbers may face if they did not follow the no-shaving or trimming rule.
The barbers, who asked not to be identified for their safety, claim that the new rules make it difficult for them to make a living.
“For many years my salon was somewhere for young people to shave as their wish and look trendy,” one told the BBC. “There is no point continuing this business.”
“Fashion salons and barbers are becoming forbidden businesses,” another said. “This was my job for 15 years and I don’t think I can continue.”
Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a prominent Taliban member, claimed in an interview with the Associated Press published this week that the group would restore punishments such as amputations and executions to deter criminals.