According to a local news agency, barbers in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir are inundated with customers demanding to get their beards shaved off. Their reason: They are worried about being identified as jihadists.
Barbers who spoke to IHA said on some days up to 15 customers are coming to get rid of their beards.
“Some citizens who have nothing to do with ISIL or Hezbollah were victimized during the protests because of their beards. We saw a similar trend in the 1990s,” Ismail Kazak, a barber told the local news agency. “Citizens now come to us either to shave their beards off or redesign its shape.”
If people continue to be harassed because of their appearance, men in other parts of Turkey may feel compelled to go clean-shaven as well. Who knows, women wearing head scarves may be the next victims.
Under present circumstances, Turks can be easy targets of hate crimes. The country has been under constant threat from terrorism and in the news with names like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria associated with it. What’s more, Turkey itself has admitted that the country is a hot spot for radical Islamists and that there are more than 1,000 Turkish radicals in ISIS
Recently, an ISIS fighter also claimed that the country funds the terrorist group.
Add to this potent mix the fact that a large percentage of Turks are Westernized and secular.
It is not hard to believe some people must be going through irrational victimization but it is nevertheless sad to witness. They shouldn’t have to change the way they look.
Facial hair and headscarves are a personal choice and though orthodox Muslims keep beards on religious grounds, there are many who keep them for personal and cultural reasons. Not every bearded person is a terrorist just as not every clean shaved man is a peace loving one.
What’s more, moderate Muslims hate these terrorists just as much as the next person and do not want to be associated with them.
If anything, the dreadful events of 9/11 proved it. Muslims faced a backlash after 9/11 that they did not deserve. Even now, there are cases of hate crimes against them and even people who are mistaken to be Muslims reported. There are hate campaigns as well as incidents of violence against innocent people.
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By all that is fair, no one should have to change their name, shave off their beards or alter the way they look just because they fear for their lives for crimes they are not party to.