Worth reading: Barbers in Iraq who fled ISIS: Living well is the best revenge.
Hugh Maylor and Mustafa Salim report in the Washington Post:
BAGHDAD — Nearly everything about the barbers at one establishment of suave Iraqi hair is at odds with the puritanical militants who overran their home towns.
Skilled in blow-drying and thickly applying gels, they transform patrons with chic looks that the Islamic State has brutally sought to eradicate.
The barbers also sport risque hairdos. They drink, chain-smoke and curse like sailors — all punishable sins, according to the group.
They have endured extraordinary suffering because of the hard-line Sunni militants, who rampaged through their home towns and murdered family members and friends.
But here in central Baghdad where they found work, they’re like a stylish band of anti-Islamic State brothers.
“Daesh is our enemy, Iraq’s enemy. They tried to murder my entire tribe,” one of the stylists, Arkan Ismael, 21, recalled on a recent day as he ran a comb through his own meticulously coiffed hair, which seemed to rise a foot. Daesh is the Arabic name of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
Ismael fled his home town of Hit shortly after the Islamic State took it over two years ago. His tribe, the Albu Nimr, resisted the militants — and paid dearly for it. The militants slaughtered hundreds, discarding dozens of the bodies in a mass grave near Hit, in Iraq’s western Anbar province.
Ismael spoke about how the group gunned down an uncle and his three children in broad daylight.
“I would have been killed if I had stayed,” he said, cursing the group as he described how he and his family fled for safety. Hit has since been liberated by Iraqi forces, but it’s still too dangerous to return there, he said, adding that a cousin and friend were killed during a recent car-bombing. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
The militant onslaughts and the government’s counterattacks have uprooted millions of Iraqis, including four of the five barbers at the shop.
The owner takes pride in employing his displaced countrymen. In fact, he said, it’s a deliberate policy.
“This is my way of helping them and my country,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns. . .