Fashion police: Iraq cracks down on ripped jeans over Ramadan

In the city of Kirkuk, police were given an order to arrest anyone wearing jean shorts or ripped jeans.

May 14, 2019 01:44
2 minute read.
Skinny Jeans

Skinny Jeans. (photo credit: REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER)


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The Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk have set their sights on a new threat: ripped jeans or “jean shorts.” According to the Kurdistan 24 news site, the police have established a new operations room specifically to counter the widespread problem of men wearing jeans that may show too much of their legs, whether the jeans are old and ripped due to wear and tear or brand-new but “pre-ripped.” Kirkuk is a large city between Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional capital of Erbil. It is a mixed city of Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians and Arabs and is one of the ancient cities of the region. Despite its diversity of culture, diversity of clothing styles has now suffered a setback as those wearing ripped jeans and jean shorts are persecuted.

A police source said that “the decision was sent to all the police stations to arrest anyone who wears short jeans and jeans with fashionable slits or rips in them.” The Kurdish media outlet links this suppression of jeans with other assaults on personal freedom in the city after the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias retook the city from Kurdish Peshmerga in October 2017, in the wake of the Kurdish region’s independence referendum. The Kurdistan 24 network reported that up to 20 men had already been detained under the new order, which was published later in April on the eve of Ramadan as part of a series of rules targeting men and the use of motorcycles during the holy month.
This is not the first time jeans have been targeted near Kirkuk. When Islamic State extremists operated in some villages on the outskirts of Kirkuk in 2016, they also had a policy against jeans. In their case, they used to send the Hisba, or religious police, to cut off the edges at the bottom of jeans, which they claimed was a violation of their version Sunni Islamic teaching. The current policy is seen as part of a religious authoritarianism that has increased since 2017.

The style of shorter ripped jeans is called “Bermuda” or “Bermuda shorts” in some local media. Al Jazeera noted that locals have mocked the new directive. However, the directive itself has been posted on social media to show that it is a legal document.

Some locals may mock the decision, but Rudaw media reported at least one man who felt the short jeans were “disgusting” and was glad to see them banned. In general, shorts are not that frequently worn by men across the Middle East. A Trip Advisor forum notes that in Iran while

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