A Hairy Situation In Beirut

An unusual problem has grown for young Lebanese hipsters. In Beirut, Lebanon there are young men who have “Hipster Beards” or long facial beards.  They are like many average young men that favor a Hipster look: skinny jeans, hoodies, unkempt hair and full beards. However, they face a more serious issue than any Hipster in the West. Because of their appearance, they face the common accusations of being terrorists by police.

Reported by NPR in the article, “Who’s That Lebanese Man With A Beard: Hipster or Terrorist,” the experiences of bearded young men with the Lebanese police have been difficult due to image-based profiling.

“They say, ‘What’s this, why do you have a beard?’ ” stated the bearded Mazen Hariz to NPR. However, this profiling has gone past questioning for some bearded young men. For Hussein Sharafadine it has gotten physical.  “The cop put a gun in my head and told me, ‘I’m gonna burn your beard,’ “Sharafadine said to NPR. With profiling based solely on beards, this makes Hipster culture dangerous.

This issue brings up an interesting relationship between hair and politics. Since 9/11, facial hair on Middle Eastern men has been suspect in both the East and West. While long beards can act as an indicator of belonging to a social group, this doesn’t mean all terrorists have facial hair. Skinheads or Neo-Nazis are notorious for their baldhead and faces. Making some pose the question:

Is hair really just a gathering of follicles, or can it define who we are in life?

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