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BellaOnline's Middle Eastern Culture Editor

Facial Hair and Scarves in Turkey

Facial Hair in Turkey is political. A long mustache, the type extending below the mouth is a nationalist mustache. If it is big and thick, that signifies communism. If it's short and cropped, an almond mustache, thatís religious.

The Father of Turkey, Ataturk, wore at least two styles - clean shaven and also had his cut straight horizontally ending at the corners of the lips above the lip line.

A goatee signifies a more intellectual occupation. Those who are professors would have a goatee. "Muganda" is a guy who doesnít shave at all. Turks usually shave once/week. If someone is mafia-ish; is unkempt, usually has money and more like a bully. Real mafia are clean cut, have shiny shoes, and wear their shirts open. The policeman and military have no facial hair.

A beard also has different meanings. Short cut beard trimmed on top (of the jaw) and bottom is fairly religious, devout, Muslim man. A short mustache with longer beard, the length that one hand can grab a hold of means a follower of their Prophet. This is usually an older man or someone part of a religious sect of Islam, would use one hand to hold the beard and not cut the bottom.

Those who are considered "Enlightened Muslims" would have short trimmed beard (2-3 day growth), are pretty religious...almost fanatical.
They probably have a Hadith that says the Prophet took one hand to trim his beard. There are millions of Hadiths, and each country chooses which Hadith they reference and follow. Saed Bukharaís Hadiths are accepted by Turkey, Afghanistan, and Egypt. The majority of the Muslim world would except this one.

How you tie your scarf and what level of expense your scarf is says a lot about you. The presidentís wife wears a scarf, and uses a very Turkish way of folding and wrapping it. She is pretty strongly religious. The presidentís daughters - were sent to study at university in the USA so that they could wear scarves to school, since students are not allowed to in Turkey. However, the fashion in Turkey right now is "wealthy religious."

Those who wear the little bonnet inside their scarf so that absolutely no hair is showing signifies yet another level of religion. Itís the cultural way in Turkey to wear a scarf. Turks interpret anyone who wears scarves as Muslim.

Here in Turkey, a scarf is extremely political, though as well. Itís illegal to wear scarves at university or in political office. Girls will wear wigs or hair pieces to cover up. There are literally riots over the wearing of scarves.

So if you are visiting Turkey, or even going to live there, but you aren't a Muslim, better to not wear a scarf. For men, consider carefully your mustache and beard...maybe you'll want to "blend in" more and shave it all off or go the other "safe" route and wear a goatee.

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