The Iranian Barbers Union, a government agency, has decreed that spiky and other unorthodox hairstyles, deemed “Devil worshipping,” are now illegal.
According to the Agence-France Presse, Iran’s ISNA state media agency announced the new decree this week, cracking down on increasingly fashionable haircuts that may begin springing up among the nation’s youth more prominently as the summer arrives. Mostafa Govahi, the head of the Barbers Union, announced that “devil worshipping haircuts are now forbidden,” in addition to tattoos, “solarium treatments” (tanning), and eyebrow plucking. The latter, AFP notes, has become increasingly popular with young Iranian men.
“Any shop that cuts hair in the devil worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their license revoked,” added Gohavi, noting that most barber shops who provide the stylish haircuts do not have licenses to practice and “will be dealt with.”
Iran is governed by a strict interpretation of Sharia law, and agencies that regulate almost every aspect of public life are expected to enforce Sharia on every individual case of violation. The law is often changed to respond to popular trends that may violate Sharia. For example, in November, Iranian authorities mulled passing a law that would criminalize ownership of dogs. Violators would face arrest and 74 lashes for walking their pets. Sharia law provides that dogs are “unclean” animals that humans should not live with.
Arts and culture are also strictly regulated. In September 2014, six men and women were sentenced to one year in prison for recording themselves enjoying Western popular culture—namely, dancing to the hit song “Happy” by Pharrell and uploading their performance to YouTube. They also received a punishment of 91 lashes for the transgression. The sentences were later suspended for three years, but could be enforced if the dancers were found guilty of violating any subsequent law.
President Hassan Rouhani, who is not the ultimate authority in the nation, has recently come under fire for implying in several public appearances that law enforcement do not have the responsibility of enforcing Sharia law but, rather, Iranian law as it appears in public statutes. “The police are not tasked to enforce Islam but their duty is to enforce the law,” Rouhani said, receiving heavy criticism from several high-ranking ayatollahs who countered that Islam and the law are one in the same in Iran.
“Police that possess pistols and handcuffs have been created for enforcement,” Rouhani said on another occasion. “We can’t say you are the seminary and can interpret (Islam). Everybody should do his job.” The Associated Press reports that several ayatollahs responded by directly opposing the statements. “All individuals, including the police, are required to enforce rules of Islam. Promoting virtue and preventing vice, according to the Koran, is the responsibility of every individual,” said Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, adding that Rouhani’s remarks “weaken the moral of the police.”