“Homosexual” and “devil worshipping” hairstyles have been banned in Iran, alongside tattoos, sunbed treatments and plucked eyebrows for men, which are all deemed un-Islamic.
The move – aimed at spiky cuts – follows a trend where, each summer, Iranian authorities get tough on men and women sporting clothing or hairdos seen as imitations of western lifestyles.
In 2010, Iran banned ponytails, mullets and long, gelled hair for men, but allowed 1980s-style floppy fringes or quiffs.
Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has spoken against such crackdowns, stating that the police’s duty is to implement the law and not enforce Islam. But hardliners have remained defiant.
A hairstyle from 2009 Photograph: Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters/Reuters
Mostafa Govahi, the head of Iran’s barbers’ union, told the semi-official Isna news agency on Monday that fancifully spiked hairstyles were banned and those who styled them risked having their shops closed.
He said: “Devil-worshipping hairstyles are forbidden. Any shop that cuts hair in the devil worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their licence revoked. Tattoos, solarium treatments and plucking eyebrows [for men] are also forbidden.”
Govahi said shops who imitate such “western hairstyles” or violate “the Islamic establishment’s regulations” would be shut down if they failed to take an initial warning seriously. “Usually the barber shops who do this do not have a licence. They have been identified and will be dealt with,” he said.
In a separate interview broadcast by the exiled Iranian opposition television channel, Manoto, Govahi said barbers across Iran had been given a list of appropriate hairstyles for men. He said hairstyles adopted by homosexuals were also banned but did not provide further details on what sort of haircut that would be.
“Haircuts that show symbols or signs of devil worshippers or those adopted by homosexuals are banned,” he said. “I won’t allow such wrongful western styles as long as I’m in this position.” He said the policy was in line with the cultural norms outlined by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
An Iranian man getting a spiked hairdo in a Tehran barbers. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images
Recently, a group of hardliners in the city of Qazvin wrote to the authorities asking them to ban full-body waxing for women in beauty salons. Women receiving hair removal treatments to their private parts was of particular concern.
Shop mannequins have not been immune from such measures either, with those displaying sizeable breasts or hips not tolerated.
Religious police and plainclothes basij militia are often deployed on the streets or in public buildings such as big shopping malls where they crack down on men and women who fail to stick to their forced Islamic dress code.
Rouhani has repeatedly made clear he stands opposed to such practices, but Iran’s police and similar forces operate under the direct control of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In controversial remarks last week, Rouhani told a group of senior Iranian officers: “Police do not have a duty to enforce Islam. No police officer can do something and say he did it because God commanded it, or the prophet had said so. It has nothing to do with the police.”
He added: “The police only have one duty: to implement the law. That’s it.”
This week, he reiterated his position once more but it has been met with sharp criticism from hardliners, among them many influential clerics. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi responded by saying: “All individuals, including the police, are required to enforce rules of Islam.”