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The Return of Turkey's Mustaches

As Fashion Week approaches in Istanbul, reports of the demise of the mustache proved premature.
50-year-old Mevlut Dogan of Turkey poses with his 1,5 metres long moustache in front of the irrigation tunnel in the southeast Turkish town of Sanliurfa November 9. He was one of the characters present during the inauguration of the next stage of Turkey's regional development project by opening up the world's largest irrigation tunnel for a ceremonial run - RTXF4TZ

With Istanbul’s Fashion Week just around the corner, the ladies are geared up to catch local expressions of global trends. Meanwhile, with men, one trend has not lost its popularity for several seasons now: the mustache. In fact, the mustache — much more a symbolic line of cultural division than a fashion accessory — has always been a controversial political symbol in Turkey. It is a story worth taking a look at.

In Turkish history, Ottoman men, as Sunni Muslims, usually had shaved heads or closely cropped hair. Particular rank or occupation determined the kind of turban or head covering. Only the “mature” male, a trait that was not always determined by age, but rather by power, could grow a beard. The practice of the Prophet Muhammad also recommended a certain length of beard. Later, secularization and Westernization in the Republican era discouraged the veil and the beard — and even banned them for state officials — because of religious connotations.

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