Taliban Enact Shaving, Beard Trimming Ban for Barbers in 1 Afghanistan Province

Barbershops in southern Afghanistan were banned from shaving or trimming beards on Monday, a new edict issued by the Taliban that they said is in line with Shariah law.

The provincial Taliban government's vice and virtue department issued the order in Helmand province to barbers in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. The Taliban has also banned music and public baths in the province, the latest in a series of hardline Islamist policies harkening back to the militant group's 1990s rule.

"Since I have heard [about the ban on trimming beards] I am heartbroken," said Bilal Ahmad, a Lashkar Gah resident. "This is the city and everyone follows a way of living, so they have to be left alone to do whatever they want."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Taliban Beard Trimming Ban
Barbershops in southern Afghanistan were recently banned from shaving or trimming beards by the Taliban. People stand as Taliban members stopped them while rushing to pass to Pakistan from the Afghanistan border in Spin Boldak on September 25. BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

During their previous rule of Afghanistan, the Taliban adhered to a harsh interpretation of Islam. Since overrunning Kabul on August 15 and again taking control of the country, the world has been watching to see whether they will re-create their strict governance of the late 1990s.

Some indication came on Saturday when Taliban fighters killed four alleged kidnappers and later hung their bodies in the public squares of the western city of Herat.

"If anyone violates the rule [they] will be punished and no one has a right to complain," said the order issued to the barbers. It wasn't immediately clear what penalties the barbers could face if they don't adhere to the no shaving or trimming rule.

During the Taliban's previous rule, the conservative Islamists demanded that men grow beards. Since being ousted from power following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, shaved or cleanly trimmed beards have become popular in the country.

Barbershop owner Jalaluddin, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, said he hoped the Taliban would reconsider their demands.

"I request our Taliban brothers to give freedom to people to live the way they want, if they want to trim their beard or hair," he said. "Now we have few clients coming to us, they are scared, they don't want to trim their hair or beards, so I request them let people free, so we have our business and people can freely come to us."

Another barbershop owner, Sher Afzal, also said the decree hurts the bottom line. "If someone comes for a haircut, they will come back to us after 40 to 45 days, so it is affecting our business like any other businesses," he said.