Barber Business Booms Outside Mosul as Men Remove Islamic State Beards

An Iraqi refugee who fled Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under the control of the Islamic State (IS) group, due to the Iraqi government forces offensive to retake the city, shaves the beard of a man at the UN-run Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria's Hasakeh province, on October 25, …

Men forced to grow out their hair and beards by the Islamic State’s oppressive Sharia law are flocking to barber shops to shave their beards and get new haircuts in the suburbs of Mosul, where the operation to liberate the city has begun.

For more than two years, men in these villages were forced to let their beards grow. The Kurdish outlet Rudaw quoted civilians describing the removal of their Sharia-compliant facial hair as a “day of celebration,” “laughing that his wife was constantly complaining about his long beard, imposed on him like every man in his village, by the strict rules of ISIS for more than two years.”

CNN highlighted a story of a local barber who lamented the decline of his business under the Islamic State: “Even the man with the razor, Ahmed abu Usama, says he’s out of practice. For two years, his business has consisted of regulation ‘ISIS-approved’ haircuts and no shaves. Shaving was banned by the terror group when it took over this village.”

Islam proscribes specific grooming instructions for both men and women. This week, Breitbart News reported that Islamic jihadists, fleeing the fighting and advancing army units in Mosul, are shaving their beards in order to disguise their jihadist identities.  

“Islamic State group fighters were shaving their beards and changing hideouts in Mosul, residents said, as Iraqi forces moved ever closer to the city Wednesday and civilians fled in growing numbers,” Breitbart reported. “‘I saw some Daesh (IS) members and they looked completely different from the last time I saw them,’ said a resident of eastern Mosul who gave his name as Abu Saif. ‘They had trimmed their beards and changed their clothes,’ the former businessman said.”

hairdresser named Ahmed, in one of the liberated villages of Faziliyah, told Rudaw he was having one of the busiest days of his twenty-year business. “Thank God. It is very crowded here now. Prosperity is again revisiting us,” Ahmed said. “Shaved beards and all type of hairstyles are the new normal now, and our business has increased threefold.”

Ahmed also pointed out that it is not only haircuts and shaves that men are interested in. According to Ahmed, “men and boys are queuing in his shop to erase the ISIS imprints on their heads and faces.”


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