Hipsters nod in approval.
Baghdad (AFP) – Every time he looks in a mirror, Laith Ahmed is worried. As of Monday, the young Iraqi’s hopelessly hairless chin could land him in an Islamic State group jail.
The jihadist group has handed out leaflets in their stronghold of Mosul in recent weeks announcing that full beards become compulsory on June 1 and explaining why shaving is punishable.
“My facial hair is just slow to come out for my age,” said the 18-year-old, who like others in this story did not give his real name for fear of retribution.
“I’m scared because they deal ruthlessly with anyone who opposes or ignores their instructions,” he told AFP from Mosul, the de facto Iraqi capital of IS’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
“My work in a bakery means I have to leave home every day and interact with Daesh militants,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.
Mosul is Iraq’s second city and used to have a population of around two million before IS swept in a year ago and made it their main hub.
Unlike some of the other cities IS conquered in Iraq, Mosul still holds a large civilian population, making any air campaign difficult.
The group made Mosul a laboratory for its state-building experiment, not just a military bastion but a city where it regulates everything from education to the opening hours of shops.
“What hairdressers do today, shaving and trimming men’s beards, is an accessory to sin,” reads the leaflet, which quotes a selection of hadiths, or sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, supporting the claim that he banned shaving.
“Thanks to our brothers from the Islamic police, an order has been issued for the shaving of beards to be banned and violators to be detained,” it says.