Two weeks ago, a friend and I were coming home from a wedding. It was a little past 10 p.m. when we saw a police jeep approach us. The policemen stopped us, searched us, and asked us questions about our appearance — especially me, because I have a buzz cut in the back of my head but had let my hair grow out a bit in front. I didn’t do it for any particular reason; I dress normally and don’t belong to any specific group or subculture. I tried to explain that it was just a hairstyle, like any other. They asked us to get in their car.
At the police station, they took out an electric razor. They didn’t completely shave my hair off, just part of it. I found this to be insulting, as if they wanted to humiliate me by marking me. They then released us, and threatened to beat us up if this ever happened again.
“We have no entertainment here and we can’t go anywhere. The police are trying to take away what little freedom we have left”
I went to the Al Mizan Center for Human Rights to file a complaint. I then completely shaved my head. Until my hair grows back, I am not leaving my house. If people see me like this, they’ll understand that I was stopped and shaved by the police, but they won’t think it was just because of my appearance but because I did something worse. The police’s propaganda works, because some people now believe all long-haired youths are thugs.
Over the last few days, things seem to be calming down: I think that the media attention to this matter and the public outcry that followed led the police to put a brake on their campaign. But I won’t forget what happened to me quite so quickly. We have no means of entertainment here in Gaza and we can’t go anywhere. One of the only freedoms left to us is our choice of fashion and hairstyles. But even for such trivial matters, the police are abusing their power and trying to take that away from us.