Undercover foreign journalists operating in Iran have revealed, through videotape evidence, a frightening clampdown in the country, with thousands of men being arrested - merely for having beards that are too short.
Papa Ratso, a reporter from Circus Media of Italy, has shown eyewitness footage of many Iranian men with short beards being rounded up and taken away in trucks, near the capital Tehran. They are kept in police cells where they are taunted about the length and smart condition of their beards. According to one such detainee, Freddie bin Laden:
"I was dressed in an orange boiler suit, with shackles around my ankles."
Another man alleges he had his beard 'stretched' by guards. Mohammad al-Tufti, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, now a barber, said:
"It was terrible. They said I was an unholy example of Western decadence. Then they put me on this huge rack and started to tug my beard this way and that."
Islamic Law dictates that beards must be "at least 3 cubits (1.5 metres) long", be "tangled and tussled", and should make the wearer look "old", "dirty" and "sinister".
Many modern-day Iranians have relaxed their rigid stance on this and other aspects of the law. Women now feel able to show more hair, and some even go shopping dressed in bikinis.
The Iranian government, however, has warned that anyone found with a short beard will have it "corrected" and that anyone seen wearing inappropriate clothing will be beheaded and then stoned to death.