February 12, 2007 / 8:11 PM / in 12 years

Pakistani barbers receive Taliban-style beard threat

Pakistani tribesmen rest with their weapons at the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan in this November 5, 2001 file photo. Barbers in a Pakistani tribal region have received Taliban-style warnings from religious zealots warning them against cutting or shaving beards, residents said on Monday. REUTERS/Stringer

KHAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Barbers in a Pakistani tribal region have received Taliban-style warnings from religious zealots warning them against cutting or shaving beards, residents said on Monday.

Notices were plastered on barber shops in Khar, the main town in the Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, and in nearby villages.

“Barbers involved in anti-Islamic activities like shaving beards are warned that they would themselves be responsible for any damage to their shops and houses,” read the Pashto-language notice on a barber shop at the village of Inayat Kalay.

Many Islamic scholars say Muslims must, if able, grow a beard to at least the length of a clenched fist, although the mustache can be trimmed or shaved.

Threats have been made to barbers in Waziristan, another region regarded as a hotbed of support for the Taliban, Afghanistan’s former rulers who insisted on a very strict, conservative interpretation of the Koran.

“The barbers feel scared. Ninety percent of their business was based on shaving beards. We virtually have no business now,” said a barber in Inayat Kalay, who requested his name be withheld.

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