It was almost closing time in Sadiq Abdul Hussein's barbershop when a man in a black mask walked in, pulled out a pistol, and began spinning it on his finger, cowboy style.
The gunman was not after government officials or American collaborators. He had come because of the way Mr. Hussein cut hair.
Within seconds, the masked man opened fire, fatally wounding Mr. Hussein, 23, who lived long enough to describe the attack. The gunman also killed his partner and a customer.
In southern Baghdad, the hazards of life have come to this: gangs of militant Islamists are warning barbers that it is haram - forbidden - to shave men's beards or do Western-style haircuts. As many as 12 barbers have been killed, Iraqi officials say, including five in one day in late January. With little hope of police protection, most now refuse to offer the offending cuts, and have placed prominent signs in their front windows saying so.
Nothing much to say here, except that it's yet another example of what can occur when fanatical religion and politics intermix: getting a shave and a haircut becomes a political act, and barbers become agents of revolution who must be stopped.