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HOW HE SEES IT Insurgents target barbers



Published: Fri, June 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By DURAED SALMAN

INSTITUTE FOR WAR AND PEACE REPORTING

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Barbers offering western-style cuts or who shave men's beards have been recently targeted by militants.

At least 10 barbers have been killed since mid-March in Baghdad, and others have closed their shops because they fear being targeted.

Jasim Abdulwahid, 23, said he quit his job after someone spray painted on his door "Don't shave beards or you will be killed."

"Now I've lost my job, how am I going to live?" he asked.

Police Capt. Suhad Abdulmunim, in charge of patrolling the al-Shalal market area, said his men are unable to stop the insurgents killing barbers.

"People feel afraid and are not cooperating with us to arrest those militants," he said. "Besides they are moving quickly around different areas of Baghdad."

Yassir Mohammed, 32, another barber in the al-Shalal market area, said the situation is terrible. "I've never known anything like this. Ten barbers dead -- murdered by unknown groups," he said.

Un-Islamic

The militants say they are targeting barbers because they are un-Islamic. But Sheik Mohammed Abdulsatar, of the College of Islamic Legislation, said the barbers' work is not against religion as "those criminals allege. They just want to cause chaos."

Insurgents have also targeted owners of CD shops and liquor stores.

Many Baghdad residents doubt that the insurgents' attacks are truly inspired by their fidelity to Islamic beliefs.

"What's the purpose behind killing barbers and ordinary people except to make a mess of things," said Saad Mokhtar, a Baghdad resident.

X Salman is a journalist in Baghdad, who writes for IWPR, The Institute for War & amp; Peace Reporting.




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