Zanzibar authorities are enforcing a ban on men wearing their hair in braided styles, telling the BBC it flouts the law and local traditions and threatens people’s morals.
“We find it dangerous to our future generations”, says Zanzibar’s Culture Executive Secretary Omar Adam. “This is one form of immorality in Zanzibar, it is a culture which is adopted from outside Zanzibar.”
He has dismissed concerns that the move was targeting the LGBTQ community in the islands, where same-sex relationships are illegal.
The law against men braiding their hair is not new – it dates back to 2015 – but the authorities have only now started enforcing it.
Any man who enters or lives in Zanzibar with braided hair faces fines of over $400 or six months imprisonment – or both.
Despite Zanzibar being among top tourist destinations, the authorities say the enforcement will apply equally to visitors.
Two months ago, the Zanzibar government banned 16 book titles and the use of rainbow colours in schools claiming that they advocated for LGBTQ rights.