AFGHANOTES #6

In a Barbershop in Kabul: “People are Letting their Beards Grow”

During the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001, their strict dress code imposed women to cover their entire body and face with a burqa and forbade men to cut their facial hear.

AFGHANOTES is the testimony of a team of Afghan journalists reporting the events and daily life in Afghanistan for Outriders since the Taliban swept into Kabul on August 15, 2021.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Hamid Javani is a 20-year-old barber who runs a hair salon in Kabul. While cutting a client’s hair with his electric razor, this barber explains that now he has “very few customers.” 

The prohibition of shaving was one of the norms of the strict dress code of the previous Taliban government. They based this prohibition on the belief that Islam’s prophet Mohammed used to wear a beard.

The Taliban are ot only changing Afghanistan’s rules but also its appearance. 

During the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001, they ordered men to grow their beards and avoid wearing “western clothes”.

The Taliban are back in power, and they have just opened the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, an institution from which in the past its morality police punished entertainment activities such as listening to music or dancing and wearing attire that did not conform to their strict dress code, which meant covering the whole body and face with a burqa for women and wearing long enough beards for men.

Paradoxically, this new ministry is located at the former Women’s Affairs building in Kabul, which has just been closed.

Clients are scared and this barber fights to keep his small salon open. Mr Javani says that before the Taliban seized control of the country, he could earn 200-300 USD a month. Now he is planning to close his business to avoid further losses.

 

For Afghans visiting a hairdresser can cost more than just their money. Appearance can put them in danger.

Meanwhile, unemployment is rising in Afghanistan. People with small businesses like this young barber are considering closing their business and leaving the country.

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