Yes, it's true. Every now and then at Wellingborough Grammar School, the headmaster, Mr. Wrenn, would line up a whole class of boys in one of the long corridors, facing the wall. He would then walk down the line behind us and tap on the shoulder any boy whose hair was longer than he approved of. Such sartorial fascism was typical in English schools when I was a lad but we all looked forward to the day when we would leave school and be allowed to grow our hair really long just like the cool people did in California. Ironically, I left school pretty much on the same day punk rock was invented and everyone who considered themselves cool shaved most of their hair off and went around saying that people with long hair were "boring old farts." But that's another story.
Of course, if we had been at school in Northern Nigeria and many other Islamic countries, leaving school would not have made any difference to us whatsoever because even when you become an adult you are simply not allowed to present yourselves in whatever reasonable way you want to. In fact, such countries go much farther than even my belligerent, boy beating headmaster. He might have given us six of the best for not getting our hair cut (sarcasm alert: never did me any harm) but he couldn't have us thrown in prison or, in the case of gay students, hanged in public.
Religious police in Nigeria's northern city of Kano on Tuesday publicly paraded scores of people arrested for flouting Islamic law, including transvestites and people wearing clothing deemed too tight or revealing. They also publicly shaved off the supposedly overly long hair of several men.
Mohammed Yusuf Yola, spokesperson for the board that polices implementation of Shariah law, told The Associated Press that 45 men and women were detained at a birthday party in a hotel on Sunday because of "indecent dress that is against the practice of Islam."
He said the recent arrests of 150 people, including 55 alleged prostitutes, is part of a new campaign to enforce Islamic law, which officially governs nine of Nigeria's 37 states. All those arrested were Muslims, Yola said.
"Our agency will not relent in its efforts to ensure compliance of Shariah legal system; the agency will do its best to make sure that society is free from all social vices," he said.