The Taliban on Monday banned barbershops in a southern Afghanistan province from shaving or trimming beards, claiming their edict is in line with Shariah, or Islamic law.
The order in Helmand province was issued by the provincial Taliban government’s vice and virtue department to barbers in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.
“Since I have heard (about the ban on trimming beards) I am heartbroken,” 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.” During their previous rule of Afghanistan, the Taliban adhered to a harsh interpretation of Islam. Since overrunning Kabul on August 15 and again taking control of the country, the world has been watching to see whether they will re-create their strict governance of the late 1990s. Some indication came on Saturday, when Taliban fighters killed four alleged kidnappers and later hung their bodies in the public squares of the western city of Herat.
Penalties not clear
“If anyone violates the rule (they) will be punished and no one has a right to complain,” said the note issued to the barbers. It wasn’t immediately clear what penalties the barbers could face if they don’t adhere to the no shaving or trimming rule.
During the Taliban’s previous rule, the conservative Islamists demanded that men grow beards. Since being ousted from power following the US-led invasion in 2001, shaved or cleanly trimmed beards have become popular in the country.
Barbershop owner Sher Afzal in Lashkar Gah said the decree hurts the bottom line. “If someone comes for a haircut, they will come back to us after 40 to 45 days, so it is affecting our business like any other businesses,” he said.