Turkmenistan intensifies the anti-beard campaign, report says

ASHGABAT (TCA) — It appears that following verbal instructions issued by the high-ranking authorities police officers in Turkmenistan are trying to identify men with beards and urge them to shave, independent foreign-based news agency Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports.

The unofficial rule has been valid in Turkmenistan for quite a long time pursuant to which the male residents who have not reached the age of 40 are not allowed to wear beards.

Now the anti-beard campaign has been intensified in the capital, Ashgabat.

Police officers stop unshaven young men on the streets, take them to police stations and demand that the latter shave off their beards. The cases of bribe extortions are common. Police officers tell the men that they would be released only after paying a fine of 100 manats.

Bus drivers are also being stopped. One of them told a correspondent of Chronicles of Turkmenistan that a road police officer stopped his vehicle and asked him to present the driving license. After making sure that the man has not turned 40, the inspector asked why the man wears a beard and said that this is prohibited.

The driver replied that he had not heard of, let alone read about the aforementioned ban. The inspector replied that ignorance of law is no excuse and demanded that the man follow him to the police station.

At the police station the driver was informed that a beard can be grown only after a man turns 40 and was sent to the nearest hairdresser’s to get it shaven off.

The driver had to obey, and he then got back his driving license and was released.

Employed men of any age, not only public-sector employees, might face dismissals if they start growing beards.

The reasons behind the ban preventing individuals from wearing a beard are unknown. According to the most popular version, the authorities see this as a sign of being a member of Islamist movements.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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