Monday, April 30, 2007

Crackdown On 'Western' Hairstyles In Iran

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

If you live in Iran and you've got a Mohawk or dreadlocks, it sucks to be you. As part of a wider crackdown by the government on "un-Islamic" dress among its public, Iranian police have been issuing directives to barbers telling them not to give "offbeat" hairstyles to their customers:
TEHRAN -- Tehran's barbers are to stop offering Iranian men unconventional Western hairstyles amid a nationwide crackdown on dressing deemed to be un-Islamic, the Etemad newspaper reported on Sunday.

The paper quoted the head of the Tehran barbers' association as saying that police had issued a directive forbidding its members from giving men offbeat hairstyles that are all the rage in more affluent parts of the capital.

"Currently some salons use Western grooming methods to create styles that are in line with the European and American ones," said the association's head, Mohammad Eftekhari-Fard. "The union has repeatedly announced the restrictions against unconventional grooming when issuing permits to each of the barber shops. Hence barbers, knowing these rules, should not pursue the wrong methods," he warned.

"The union will withdraw its support from those barbers who cut hairstyles that are out of line with the norms of the system," he said.

Eftekhari-Fard did not specify which hairstyles were being targeted, but conservatives in Iran have long been upset by the heavy use of styling gel, shoulder-length hair, and the spiky "big hair" styles sported by some of Tehran's young males.

The directive also banned the use of "facial cosmetics, plucking of eyebrows, and applying special make-up in male salons," he said.

Iran has handed out thousands of warnings over the past week to women found to have infringed Islamic dress rules in the latest police crackdown.

However, the authorities have emphasized that men are not excluded from the drive, and males whose T-shirts were found to be too short or tight and hair excessively groomed have also found themselves apprehended.

Eftekhari-Fard told Etemad that while only 5 percent of Tehran hair salons were deviating from the laws, they would be strictly monitored and if necessary their permits taken away for at least a month.

Customers would also not be allowed to wear ties and bow ties - frowned upon in Iran as a symbol of Western imperialism - in barber shops, he said.
Is that really a problem in Iran, too many people wearing bow ties? That almost seems too ridiculous, even for this story.

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