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In Iraq, Beauty Professionals Go Underground

Muslim extremists target  salons, viewing them as Western corruption.

Hardline Muslim extremists who believe it is sinful for women to appear beautiful in public have forced many beauty professionals in Iraq to move their trade underground, according to a report by The Associated Press. Sunni and Shiite militants began blowing up salons roughly two years ago. They killed several stylists and bullied others into leaving the profession, all in an effort to stamp out what they view as the corrupting spread of Western culture. Besides beauty salons, militants have also targeted liquor stores, barber shops, and Christian churches.

In the past year, most beauty salons in the Shiite-dominated southern city of Basra went underground — often with beauticians working in secret from their homes — as they did in the Sunni-controlled neighborhood of Dora in west Baghdad. Despite being targeted by militants, stylists say women here still want to look good — and stylish. Refusing to get a haircut or having their makeup done would be giving in to the violence and despair surrounding them.

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