# Posted 5:21 AM by Patrick Belton
TURKMENISTAN'S PRESIDENT NIYAZOV today declared the wearing of beards and goatees illegal
. Rather than any connection to Islam, as might more ordinarily be suspected for an ordinance concerning beards, it seems much more likely that Niyazov simply doesn't approve of the current fashion of goatees proliferating among the young men of Ashgabat. And this is just the latest in a string of odd prohibitions imposed by a crazed autocrat: for instance, it is also now forbidden in Turkmenistan to listen to car radios or to smoke in the street; opera and ballet performances have also been banned, on the grounds that they are "unnecessary"; and the entire health care sector of the nation is about to be laid off, to be replaced by military conscripts.
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