Taliban bans barbers from shaving beards in Afghanistan

Some hairdressers have been instructed to "stop following American styles" and not to shave or trim anyone's beard.

A hairdressing Salon in Afghanistan (BBC)

The Taliban have banned hairdressers in Afghanistan's Helmand province from shaving or trimming beards, because doing so constitutes a breach of the Islamic law, the BBC reports.

Anyone violating the rule will be punished, the Taliban religious police has declared.

Some barbers in the capital Kabul have said they also received similar orders.

The Taliban has promised a milder form of government on its return, but recent events suggest otherwise.

Since taking power last month, the Taliban has dished out harsh punishments on opponents.

On Saturday, the group's fighters shot dead four alleged kidnappers and their bodies were hung in the streets of the western city of Herat.

In a notice posted on salons in southern Helmand province, Taliban officers warned that hairdressers must follow Sharia law for haircuts and beards.

"No one has a right to complain," the notice, which was seen by the BBC, read.

"The fighters keep coming and ordering us to stop trimming beards," one barber in Kabul said. "One of them told me they can send undercover inspectors to catch us."

Another hairdresser, who runs one of the city's biggest salons, said he received a call from someone claiming to be a government official.

They instructed him to "stop following American styles" and not to shave or trim anyone's beard.

During the Taliban's first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, the hardline Islamists banned flamboyant hairstyles and insisted that men must grow beards.

But since 2001, clean-shaven looks have become popular and many Afghan men have gone to salons for fashionable cuts.

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