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Exposure to Western culture since 2001 has transformed Afghanistan's previously isolated society, and a love of tattoos has taken hold -- despite inking parlours being illegal.Under the Taliban's tough 1996-2001 regime, personal fashion statements were outlawed and police squads patrolled the streets looking for men who had beards that were too short or hair that was too long.Many Muslims consider tattoos to be forbidden under Islamic law, and some mullahs in Afghanistan are fiercely critical, describing it as a mutilation of the human body.Yousifi, who has a tattoo from the X-Men movies on his arm, first developed his passion while living in Iran as a refugee and then became a skilled artist himself.He uses his friend's male beauty salon in a shopping mall as cover to avoid the attentions of the authorities, keeping his tools hidden at home and only taking them to the salon when he has a client.At a claustrophobic basement gym echoing with the noise of clanking weights, one in every three men has a tattoo.
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