Under Taliban control, barbers struggle as Afghans rejects fashion


Nader Shah was accustomed to styling quiffs, mohawks, and crew cuts for image-conscious young men in Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city.
However, since the Taliban took power in mid-August, Afghans have had little money and are afraid of being punished if they wear short or trendy haircuts.
“People used to come in and ask for different haircuts, but that’s no longer the case,” Shah, 24, said at his barbershop, which has mirrors on every wall. “They’re now heartbroken.”
The Taliban prohibited extravagant haircuts and required males to grow beards during their first term in office, from 1996 to 2001.
Being clean-shaven after they were evicted was often seen as a symbol of modernity, especially in Herat’s comparatively cosmopolitan western city.
“Now, when people come here, they simply want basic cuts,” Mr. Shah explained. “They also don’t shave their beards, which has become an issue.”
The barber, who started as a young apprentice and has been in the industry for 15 years, said the slump had reduced his daily earnings from US$15 (S$20) to between US$5 and US$7. Mr. Mohammad Yousefi, 32, of the adjacent neighborhood, claimed he has had to drastically reduce his rates – from US$6 a cut to only US$1 – to keep his store open.
“Customers have less income because of the Taliban situation. Therefore they pay us less,” he explained.
“Suddenly, people prefer to make themselves appear like the Taliban,” Mr. Yousefi remarked after the Islamist hardliners gained control of the nation.
“It’s not like the Taliban are trendy,” he explained, “but people don’t cut their beards because the Taliban will inquire about it.” “They claim it’s against sharia law and that males are supposed to have beards and long hair.”


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