A farewell to beards: Men shaving to avoid jihadist stigma in southeast Turkey

Last week’s violent protests against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) left 37 people dead and many wounded throughout the country. The highest death toll was in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, where supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) clashed with Hizbullah members, who allegedly sympathize with ISIL.

After several people were reportedly targeted by a mob that accused them of being ISIL sympathizers due to their beards, hundreds started rushing to barbers in Diyarbakır as the protests died down.

Barbers who spoke to İHA said on some days up to 15 customers were coming to get rid of their potentially trouble-making beards.

“Some citizens who have nothing to do with ISIL or Hizbullah were victimized during the protests because of their beards. We saw a similar trend in the 1990s,” said İsmail Kazak, a barber in the city’s Sur neighborhood. “Citizens now come to us either to shave their beards off or redesign its shape.”

Yakup Bahadır, another barber from the Yenişehir neighborhood, said the average number of beard shavings had been just three or four per day. “I’ve been doing this job for 15 years and I’ve never before shaved so many beards,” Bahadır said.