08 June 2016
The Muslim world’s battle over the legitimacy of political Islam has expanded to the soccer pitch as proponents and opponents of interpreting the faith politically seek to impose their public morals with men’s hairstyles and facial hair taking centre stage.
At the core of the battle are fans and players, a reflection of society as a whole, who seek to exercise their right to choose their preferred styles often in opposition to efforts by autocrats to impose their will depending on their attitude towards public morals and political Islam. The crackdown on hairstyles is part of a larger battle to control public morals by autocrats who either seek to ban religious expression from public life or impose pious behaviour.
Soccer fans sporting beards in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, a country that see beards as potential expressions of empathy with political or militant Islam, were recently barred entry into a stadium. The move was widely seen as signalling another crackdown on anything the government associates with political strands of Islam.
… Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog and a just published book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 09/06/2016