In our series of letters from African journalists, Zeinab Mohammed Salih looks at the contentious issue of fashion in the conservative, Islamic country of Sudan.
In the last few weeks social media users in Sudan have been horrified by videos and pictures of young men’s afros being shaved off by the former Janjaweed forces in some of the poor areas of Khartoum, the capital.
The government-backed Janjaweed militia, accused of carrying out atrocities in the western region of Darfur in the early 2000s, now have a new role.
They were accused of riding camels and horses into villages seen as sympathetic to rebels, burning them to the ground, killing the men and raping the women.
Now renamed the Rapid Support Forces, they have been tasked with tracking down traffickers and stopping migrants heading to Europe – a role funded by the European Union (EU), although the EU has denied that any money goes to the ex-Janjaweed.
It is not entirely clear why the former fighters have now taken to shaving off afros, but the hairstyles tend to be associated in conservative religious and social circles with people who are “deviant”.
Flogged for wearing trousers
Dress is indeed a touchy subject in Sudan, where fashion can get you into trouble.
The actions of the former Janjaweed fighters reminded people of the Public Order Police,…