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No more shaving or trimming of beards, Taliban warns barbers

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The Taliban has warned barbers not to shave or trim men’s beards. (Representational Image)

The Taliban has warned  barbers not to shave or trim men’s beards because in its interpretation of Sharia, this is un-Islamic.

Taliban vigilantes are going to Barbers shops in Kabul imposing  a ban  on shaving beards. They have even threatened to kill barbers who violate the restriction. But unlike their previous rule in the 1990s, they have not asked them to close their shops. Now Taliban fighters get the latest haircuts, even if their beards remain untouched in line with their religious Sharia beliefs. The new regime has asked the barbers and hairdressers not to follow  European and American styled ‘fashionable’ beards and haircuts, saying that this violates Islamic law.

"It is not just women who have suffered under the Taliban . . . men have also borne the brunt," said one Afghan on social media with a pseudonym , who was having his beard trimmed because, he said, "hair come into my mouth when I eat."

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“Despite its hollow attempt to “put a new face” on itself, the Taliban’s ministerial appointments actually doubled down on the harsh cruelty that I knew growing up in Kabul during the first tyrannical Taliban regime,” said another social media user.

“Three weeks into Taliban rule, people in Kabul are still in shock. Murtaza Sultani, owner of VIP Salon, embodies this despondency “we used to get 10 to 15 [customers a day], but now no one wants their hair cut, as they think men will be told to grow beards like before.” said another user.

Taliban’s the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is back, implementing the group’s austere interpretation of Islamic law,  with harsh restrictions on women, strictly enforced prayer times and even bans on music and chess.

“The Taliban are not just a bunch of thugs that don’t understand the local dynamics,” said an Afghan journalist who has seen the previous regime as a teenager.

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According to him, in areas where local community ties are strong enough to stand up to the Taliban, the militants adopt a more conciliatory approach,  but in territory that lacks those ties,  the Taliban impose harsh punishments.

“The only change in their rule is that there is more cruelty,” he said.

But there is a visible change in Afghan society too, especially among women in big cities where they have been protesting on the streets demanding their rights. The Taliban’s old guards are surprised because they never expected these women protestors who are refusing to back down even at gunpoint.

Women make about 48 percent  of the population in the country. Most of them are  young, and have not experienced the Taliban’s previous regressive regime.