Ponytail for men gets the chop in Iran

Iran's culture ministry has given its blessing to a number of "Islamic" haircuts for men, with ponytails failing to make the list, the ILNA news agency reported on Monday.

ILNA and other agencies carried pictures of mostly clean-shaven male models sporting short hair, some styled with gel, in a "journal of Iranian hairstyles approved by the ministry of (culture and Islamic) guidance."

"The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians' complexion, culture and religion, and Islamic law," said Jaleh Khodayar, who is in charge of a "Modesty and Veil Festival" later this month where they are to be promoted.

"We are happy that the Islamic republic of Iran's government has backed us in designing these hairstyles," she said, adding that a catalogue of haircuts for men would soon be published.

Iranian police carry out regular morality crackdowns, arresting and warning women in figure-hugging short coats and flimsy headscarves as well as men sporting spiky hair and tight, low-slung jeans.

The Islamic veil is mandatory in Iran, which has sought to keep defiant urban youths properly covered since the establishment of the Islamic republic over 30 years ago.

Several barber shops have reportedly been shut down and penalised in recent years for offering "decadent Western cuts."

Conservative clerics have called for firmer action against un-Islamic dressers and hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came under fire last month for expressing opposition to a tough police crackdown on immodest attire.