By Omar Sattar for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The Islamic State (IS) issued many decrees when it took over Mosul in 2014, including one that banned barbers. As one might imagine, with the recent liberation of the city many men of Mosul — with their three years’ worth of hair growth — are heading out for a shave and a haircut.
Barbershops are sprouting once again — albeit carefully because of the possible threat of remaining IS cells. Returning to a somewhat normal life in Mosul, which was liberated July 10 from the clutches of IS, is a difficult process. Thousands of displaced people are returning to their homes amid large-scale devastation and the stifling fear and culture of prohibition that IS left behind.
Today, the young people of Mosul seek to rid themselves of long beards, get proper haircuts and shake the weight of IS off their shoulders.
Barbershops are not yet in full swing due to economic and security reasons, according to Safaa Mohammed, a barber from the eastern part of Mosul. IS severely punished men who did not commit to growing their beards, or who drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes or went out with women who were not accompanied by an escort. The punishment ranged from prison to flogging and fines.
In one of the organization’s punishment campaigns, 40 clean-shaven men were led off to IS prisons in September 2016.
Mohammed, who recently resumed work, told Al-Monitor IS destroyed his shop and it was very expensive to restore. He added that the turnout of customers is still low in some areas, especially on the west side of town, which was only freed very recently.