Hair-cutting feud erupts among Amish

2011-10-09 21:04

Washington - County sheriffs in eastern Ohio are investigating a bizarre rash of home invasions in which Amish farmers are getting their beards cut off.

Members of a dissident Amish group called the Bergholz Gang are suspected of bursting into the homes of mainstream Amish and cutting - or attempting to cut - the facial hair of their targets.

The intruders then returned to their leader, hair in hand, to prove that his orders were being obeyed to the letter, the local Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register newspaper reported, quoting sheriffs.

One of four Amish men arrested over the attacks has been released as a result of mistaken identity but at least two of the others are expected to be charged, the paper said.

It said the assaults - which have also targeted the long tresses of Amish womenfolk - were motivated "for some reason" relating to faith.

Descendants of 18th century German-speaking immigrants, the Amish are Protestants who shun many modern conveniences, such as driving cars. They regard uncut beards and hair as expressions of faith.

Donald Kraybill, an expert on the Amish at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, told AFP that the attacks were "very odd" because violence is extremely rare within the Amish community.

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