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Tajikistan’s battle against beards to ‘fight radicalisation’


“They called me a Salafist, a radical, a public enemy. And then two of them held my arms while another one shaved half of my beard.”

Djovid Akramov says he was stopped by Tajik police outside his house, along with his seven-year-old son, last month – and taken to the police station in Dushanbe where he was forcibly shaved.

He became one of hundreds of thousands of men in Tajikistan arrested in recent years for wearing a beard.

Shaving beards is part of a government campaign targeting trends that are deemed “alien and inconsistent with Tajik culture”.

Earlier this week, police in Tajikistan’s Khatlon region said that they had shaved the beards of nearly 13,000 men as part of an “anti-radicalisation campaign”.

The BBC spoke to nine other men who described similar experiences – being detained in the street and forcibly taken to the police department or a barber shop, where they were shaved.

The government campaign is explained by the need to fight radicalisation, amid fears that Central Asia might follow the path of countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria towards extremism.


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