Iran bans ‘devil wor­ship­ping’ hair­cuts

Lesotho Times - - International -

TEHRAN — Hair­styles of a spiky and un­ortho­dox na­ture have re­port­edly been banned in Iran be­cause they im­ply devil-wor­ship, while tat­toos and other male bod­ily adorn­ments also be­ing outlawed.

Jagged hair­cuts have be­come fash­ion­able among all strata of Iran’s youth­ful pop­u­la­tion in re­cent years, but have di­vided opin­ion and been deemed by the au­thor­i­ties as west­ern and unIs­lamic.

“Devil wor­ship­ping hair­styles are now for­bid­den,” said Mostafa Go­vahi, the head of Iran’s Bar­bers Union, cited by the ISNA news agency.

“Any shop that cuts hair in the devil wor­ship­ping style will be harshly dealt with and their li­cence re­voked,” he said, not­ing that if a busi­ness cut hair in such a style this will “vi­o­late the Is­lamic sys­tem’s reg­u­la­tions”.

As well as tat­toos be­ing banned, so­lar­ium treat­ments and the pluck­ing of eye­brows — an­other ris­ing trend among young Ira­nian males — will not be tol­er­ated, the re­port said.

Go­vahi blamed unau­tho­rised bar­bers for of­fer­ing the spiky hair­styles and other treat­ments.

“Usu­ally the bar­ber shops that do this do not have a li­cence. They have been iden­ti­fied and will be dealt with,” he said.

The Bar­bers Union rep­re­sents only male hair­dressers in Iran, with fe­male stylists hav­ing a sep­a­rate trade or­gan­i­sa­tion. — AFP JERUSALEM — When Is­rael se­cretly air­lifted waves of Ethiopian Jews in the 1980s and 1990s, sav­ing them from war and famine in the Horn of Africa, it was cel­e­brated as a tri­umphant show of unity for the Jewish peo­ple.

Thirty years af­ter the first large groups of Ethiopi­ans ar­rived, few in the com­mu­nity are cel­e­brat­ing. Is­rael’s black Jewish mi­nor­ity is plagued by poverty, crime and un­em­ploy­ment, and their brew­ing frus­tra­tions over racism and lack of op­por­tu­nity have boiled over into an un­prece­dented out­burst of vi­o­lent anti-po­lice protests.

The un­rest has laid bare the strug­gles of ab­sorp­tion and the rocky at­tempts of the state to in­te­grate them into a so­ci­ety for which they were ill-pre­pared. Caught of­f­guard, Is­rael’s lead­ers are vow­ing to re­spond to the com­mu­nity’s griev­ances.

Pres­i­dent Reuven Rivlin said Mon­day the out­cry “ex­posed an open, bleed­ing wound in the heart of Is­raeli so­ci­ety.”

“We must look di­rectly at this open wound. We have erred. We did not look, and we did not lis­ten enough,” said Mr Rivlin, whose largely cer­e­mo­nial of­fice is meant to serve as a moral compass.

On Sun­day, pro­test­ers shut down a ma­jor high­way in Tel Aviv, hurled stones and bot­tles at po­lice and over­turned a squad car. They were dis­persed with tear gas, wa­ter can­nons and stun grenades. More than 60 peo­ple were in­jured and 40 ar­rested in the sec­ond such protest in re­cent days, and demon­stra­tions are ex­pected to con­tinue.

The un­rest fol­lowed a video that emerged last week of an Ethiopian Is­raeli sol­dier be­ing beaten by po­lice in what ap­peared to be an un­pro­voked attack.

Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu met Mon­day with com­mu­nity lead­ers and with the sol­dier who was at­tacked, telling him “we’ll have to change a few things”. Closing the gaps in Is­raeli so­ci­ety, how­ever, will be a dif­fi­cult task.

Ethiopian Jews trace their an­ces­tors to the an­cient Is­raelite tribe of Dan. The com­mu­nity was cut off from the rest of the Jewish world for more than 1 000 years.

Un­der its “Law of Re­turn,” Is­rael grants au­to­matic cit­i­zen­ship to any Jews. In the early 1980s, af­ter a pe- riod of de­bate about recog­nis­ing the com­mu­nity as Jews, Is­rael covertly be­gan to bring in thou­sands of Ethiopian im­mi­grants. In 1991, thou­sands more came in a se­cret air­lift car­ried out over two days.

The new ar­rivals strug­gled greatly as they made the tran­si­tion from a ru­ral, de­vel­op­ing African coun­try into an in­creas­ingly high-tech Is­rael. Over time, many have in­te­grated more into Is­raeli so­ci­ety, serv­ing in the mil­i­tary and po­lice and mak­ing in­roads in pol­i­tics, sports and en­ter­tain­ment. Some prom­i­nent com­mu­nity fig­ures speak He­brew with­out a trace of an ac­cent and are in­dis­tin­guish­able from other Is­raelis in ev­ery­thing but skin colour.

Over­all, how­ever, the Ethiopi­ans are an un­der­class. Many com­plain of racism, lack of op­por­tu­nity and rou­tine po­lice ha­rass­ment.

About 120 000 Ethiopian Jews live in Is­rael to­day, a small mi­nor­ity in a coun­try of eight mil­lion. Many older Ethiopi­ans work me­nial jobs — men as se­cu­rity guards and women as clean­ers and cashiers. They live with their fam­i­lies in run­down city neigh­bour­hoods and im­pov­er­ished towns with high rates of crime and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Their chil­dren have made gains, but over­all, the younger gen­er­a­tion is still strug­gling.

A 2012 study by the My­ers-jdcBrook­dale In­sti­tute said that 41 per­cent of Ethiopian Is­raelis lived be­low the poverty line, com­pared with 15 per­cent for the over­all Jewish pop­u­la­tion. The av­er­age in­come of Ethiopian Is­raelis was about two-thirds of their Jewish coun­ter­parts. Just five per­cent had col­lege de­grees, com­pared with 28 per­cent for the broader Jewish pop­u­la­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Is­rael’s Pri­son Ser­vice, one-fifth of the in­mates in ju­ve­nile fa­cil­i­ties are Ethiopian Is­raelis.

Ethiopian Is­raelis also al­lege re­peated dis­crim­i­na­tory slights and, at times, out­right racism. In the late 1990s, it was dis­cov­ered that Is­rael’s health ser­vices were throw­ing out Ethiopian Is­raeli blood dona­tions over fears of dis­eases con­tracted in Africa. Some land­lords have also re­fused them as ten­ants, and ac­cu­sa­tions have been raised that Is­rael has de­lib­er­ately tried to curb their birth rates.

“Any­one who at­tended the protest yes­ter­day ex­pe­ri­enced at one point in their life hu­mil­i­a­tion based

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