An Islamic preacher in Turkey launched a scathing attack on clean-shaven men, claiming that they “look like women” and provoke “homosexual thoughts”.
Murat Bayaral’s intervention, made on a religious TV channel has highlighted the increasing Islamisation of Turkey under President Recep Erdogan.
“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard,”
“For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,”
The preacher, who enjoys a sumptuous bounty of well-groomed facial hair, made the comments as Turkey’s secular heritage looks increasingly under threat.
Preacher Bayaral’s claims are a reminder of the widening polarity within Turkish society. The beard is a pressure point for Islamist and Islamophobic policies alike.
Militant groups such as Isis have previously forced men living under their jurisdiction to wear beards, while China’s authoritarian government has banned men belonging to the Uyghur Muslim minority population from sporting facial hair.
Contrary to Bayaral’s claim, scientific studies have never shown that men without beards provoke “indecent thoughts”. However, several have demonstrated that homophobic men are more likely to be repressing gay desires.