Iraqi Barbers Targeted by Terrorists
If more evidence was needed that the so-called insurgency in Iraq was fueled by Taliban-style extremists, the New York Times this morning news that the terrorists are targeting barbers “shave men’s beards or do Western-style haircuts.” Amazing.
In southern Baghdad, the hazards of life have come to this: gangs of militant Islamists are warning barbers that it is haram – forbidden – to shave men’s beards or do Western-style haircuts. As many as 12 barbers have been killed, Iraqi officials say, including five in one day in late January. With little hope of police protection, most now refuse to offer the offending cuts, and have placed prominent signs in their front windows saying so.
The killings and threats are not the first efforts in Iraq to enforce a Taliban-style religious rule. In Falluja, armed mujahedeen ran an Islamic police state for several months before the American invasion last year, punishing beardless men and any women who dared to go out with their heads uncovered. In southern Iraq, Shiite militants have attacked liquor stores and sometimes killed those who ignored their threats. In Baghdad, the killings and threats have been concentrated in Doura, a working-class neighborhood dominated by the four towering smokestacks of a power plant. Even in the generally lawless capital, Doura stands out as a war zone. At least a dozen police officers and government officials have been killed there in the past two weeks, usually by gunmen who drive up and spray their target with automatic weapons fire.
With so much violence, the police in Doura say there is little they can do to protect the barbers. They have investigated a few cases, and have found that some of the killers appear to be professionals who are paid as much as $200 a hit, said one police official, who refused to give his name out of fear that he would become a target. “The police get paid $140 a month,” the officer said. “You need money to investigate these cases, and we don’t have it.”
What’s astounding is that they are apparently continuing to shave beards and give haircuts as requested by their customers.