Anbar’s clandestine beauty salons
Anbar, July 30 (AKNews) – Following the 2003 allied invasion of Iraq, extremist religious groups went on a rampage, lashing out at any transgression of their radical interpretation of Islamic (Shariya) law.
During these troubled times, beauty salons across the country – deemed impure or immoral by the extremists - repeatedly came under insurgent attack.
In Anbar province – at the time a hotbed of insurgency and extremism – beauty salons were faced with two choices; move to a safer area or close down. A number of enterprising salon-owners however came up with a third option, to operate their businesses in private homes, without billboards or advertising, marketing their services by word-of-mouth.
Although security in the province has improved considerably following the formation of the Sahwat tribal councils in 2006 who, with the support of the US army, succeeded in ousting al-Qaeda and other militant groups from the area, many professionals in the beauty industry still live in fear of extremist targeting.
Today, the women of Anbar who are looking for a professional makeover will have to keep their ears to the ground and hunt down one of the provinces clandestine salons.
When Hind Fadhil’s salon in Ramadi - the provincial capital 110 km west of Baghdad - was blown up by extremists in 2004, Fadhil did not open a new salon or try to rebuild her old one. Instead she went underground and has since been offering her services from home.
"They blew my salon up, and threatened to kill me - I don't know why," Fadhil told AKnews, "Now, I have reduced my work a lot and do it inside my own home."
"Many beauty salons and hairdressers were blown up during the years following 2003, and now the practice is done clandestinely for fear of our lives," she said.
Fellow beauty professional Dalal Shukri in Anbar’s Fakkujah city, complained that her previously buzzing business has slumped since her salon was destroyed by insurgents and she was forced underground.
"I did this because I was afraid of terrorist attacks,” she said, speaking of the business she now runs from home, “but I work fewer hours now”.
“Our profession is losing its once-booming business.”
Isra Amir who closed down her thriving salon in Haditha for fear of extremist targeting, spoke with nostalgia of the years preceding the 2003 allied invasion.
Amir said her salon was often open into the early hours of the morning because demand for her services was so high.
"Today however, there is fear of everything,” she said, “Life has changed because of these terrorist organizations who strive to cut off the sustenance of women who earn their money through hard work."
Reported by Anwar Msarbat