New Emissary

Mulling the ‘Un-Islamic’

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New Emissary

Mulling the ‘Un-Islamic’

Is Iran’s new style-guide a way for the regime to stamp their shaken authority on its youth?

Last week I compiled a list of 5 things banned in the Asia-Pacific, which included beards in Japan, junk food ads in Korea and certain hairstyles—including the much-shunned mullet—in Iran.

As for the latter, earlier this month, Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance released a catalogue of ‘Islamically permissible hairstyles’ for men, emphasizing that the purpose of the guide is to ‘protect culture and respect Iranian tradition,’ by coming up with appropriate hairstyles that ‘confront Western cultural invasion.’ And the international media jumped on the story, giving it the catchy treatment: ‘Iran bans the mullet.’

I wondered what the Iranian media itself, as well those in the country, likely made of the news and so spoke to Diplomat columnist Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian native, about the matter.

He’s just written our feature piece today entitled ‘The Seditious Ahmadinejad,’ which in fact mentions the recent resignation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s religious advisor, reportedly over disagreements surrounding ‘the new government approved codes of clothing and hairstyles for men and women.’

When I asked Javedanfar what his own take is on the hairstyles guide, he told me:

‘It’s a sign of concern by the regime. They see “unislamic” hairstyles as a way to question government authority and as a sign of protest. With this new guide for hairstyles, they’re trying to stamp their much shaken authority—on the youth especially.’

On how the local media has responded, Javedanfar noted that it has actually not objected and that if anything it’s Ahmadinejad who, surprisingly, seems to be against the new measures. He said of the leader’s stance and underlying intent: ‘Ahmadinejad is on a real collision course with the clergy who want to go through with this. He’s going against these measures as a way to make himself popular.’

Overall, Javedanfar agreed that such decisions by Tehran as the new rules of ‘hair conduct’ do indicate weakness in the current regime, something which he discusses more in his piece.

Meanwhile, I also heard today from our Chinese language editor Leonard Chien who’s currently based in Taiwan. He informed me of some more bans being implemented in the Asian region—Singaporean authorities just this month have reportedly caused ‘a major uproar’ by banning a politically themed documentary and arresting a British writer who penned a work about the country’s death penalty.