Iran bans ‘devil worshipping’ haircuts
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