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Making the World Safe for …

This Magazine Staff

I’ll take myself up on my own challenge to make Iraqi stories as compelling as London stories.

Q. Obviously, “military recruit” is as dangerous a job as one can get in Iraq today, since recruiting offices are regular targets for suicide and car bombings. What’s the second most dangerous job in Iraq?

A. Barber.

According to a recent report in The Guardian, which I found through All Headline News, a site collecting Iraqi news items in the English-speaking media, barbers are being targetted for assassination all over Iraq, as militant Islamist insurgents try to cow the general population into following strict religious codes—the shaving of beards, and western-style haircuts are considered a form of heresy. 10 barbers have been snuffed out in recent weeks. Here’s a quote:

The more detailed threats have warned against doing a French-style haircut called the “carré” and doing what Iraqis call the hiffafa, in which a length of thread is used to extract fine hairs on the cheek for a closer shave.

Customers have been executed as well, so the haircut-related deaths in Iraq are not limited to barbering professionals. Londoners, and these days (thanks to Anne McLellan’s inspiring words the other day) Torontonians are understandably nervous riding the subway. Imagine if taking a seat in a barber chair was a potential life and death decision.

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