Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Salvador Dali back from the dead, moustache threatened by sharia

There is nothing I like more than absolute farce, and this article is just that.  Amir Afridi is not Dali, but his carefully groomed moustache makes it appear he could be the brother of Dali.  Although, as weird as Dali was, maybe Afridi is Dali incarnate (cue Twilight Zone music)

From the Telegraph April 9 by Rob Crilly

In Pakistan: your moustache or your life

Solely responsible for moustache wax sales in Pakistan

There is no finer mark of a Pakistani man than a fully oiled, waxed and twirled moustache. For 18 years, Amir Muhammad Afridi’s vast handlebar moustache, curling as high as his forehead, made him a celebrity throughout the rugged, tribal lands that border Afghanistan.
But that was until his luxuriant facial hair came to the attention ofLashkar-i-Islam, extremists who are fighting to impose hardline Sharia in the Khyber agency where Mr Afridi lived.
For the past two years he has braved death threats, intimidation and been forced to flee his home all in the name of a moustache that demands 30 minutes of grooming every morning. (It's a highly specialised regimen involving almond oil, hairdryers and a secret wax that no amount of pleading will make him reveal.)
“They arrested me in broad daylight, put me in their car,” he told me. “They took me to a religious scholar who declared the moustache un-Islamic and ordered it removed.
“There was nothing I could do. I was surrounded by guns. If I had resisted I would be dead."
They set about his moustache, which at that time stretched 12 inches away from his face, reducing it to what Mr Afridi described in a sorrowful voice as “ordinary”.
Since then Mr Afridi, 42, has given up his home in the town of Banna and moved his wife and 10 children to the north-western city of Peshawar where he lives anonymously running a small business importing watches. He has regrown his moustache and only now, with violence declining in Peshawar in the past year, is he prepared to speak publicly about the threat to his life.
“I promised myself I would pray for death but would never surrender my moustache,” he said, despite his wife’s protestations. “She said earlier it was your hobby, but now it's endangering your life so please remove it.”
Such was the local pride in the great moustache that officials in Banna paid him about £40 a month to help with the cost of maintaining it – a significant sum in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Male grooming is something of an obsession in Pakistan, and well-tended moustaches are sported by prominent politicians, sportsmen and military leaders (although you should never appoint a man with a moustache as the head of your army – he'll overthrow you, according to this brilliant analysis of Pakistan's facial hair).
The ritual showdown at the Wagah border crossing, when Indian and Pakistan border guards strut and stamp their rivalry, is conducted amidmuch moustache twirling.
And legend has it that a quarrel within Pakistan’s first family of politics ended with Benazir Bhutto’s brother, Murtaza, shaving off the moustache of her husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Today her brother is dead and her widower is president.
However, the moustache is also a target of Islamic extremists. They point to one of the lessons attributed to the Prophet Mohammed: “Act against the polytheists, trim closely the moustache and grow beard."
Read it all

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