Far from Brooklyn, Iraq’s hipsters are a hit on Instagram

Members of Mr Erbil, a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, pose in Erbil, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2017
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Far from Brooklyn, Iraq’s hipsters are a hit on Instagram

ERBIL, Iraq: With their waxed moustaches, precision-clipped beards and dapper clothes, members of the Mr. Erbil gentleman’s club look like the smarter residents of Brooklyn or Shoreditch.
But rather than the hipster neighborhoods of New York or London, this is Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region — just 100 km from the grim battle to drive Daesh fighters from their last bastion in the country.
“When we started we were in a bad situation, economic crisis and then an expected war against Daesh,” said Goran Pshtiwan, 26, wearing a three-piece suit and custom-made moccasins decorated with the club’s logo — without socks, naturally.
“There was no business activity so we started with the idea to gather and make something different and unique and change the look of the people and the way that they are thinking.”
As well as regular meetings where they dress in different styles, from smart casual to black tie and traditional Ottoman-time attire, the club aims to support local tailors and craftsmen who help make their outfits.
Accessorized with purple-trimmed handkerchiefs, pocket watch chains and selfie-sticks, the men, in their 20s and 30s, hold photoshoots at local beauty spots, posting the results on Instagram where they have more than 60,000 followers.
The buzz has surprised co-founder Omer Nihad, a 28-year-old former stock trader, who said Star Trek actor George Takei, who has more than 2 million Twitter followers, had mentioned the club.
A recent video they shot received 5 million views, he said.
While a boy’s only club, Mr. Erbil uses its Internet platform to promote women who are working to improve rights and opportunities for girls.
Nihad said the club aimed to launch its own clothing brand, set up a shop and collaborate with fashion houses. And he would love to see Mr. Erbil featured in a high fashion magazine.
“Of course, we don’t want to be on the front page,” he said. “It is okay if we were in the middle!”


Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

Updated 19 November 2018
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Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

  • US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors
  • Raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation

HELSINKI: Social media in Finland was ablaze with bemused comments on Monday after US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors.
Speaking to reporters during the weekend while in California to see the impact of devastating forest fires, the US president again blamed forest management, but said Finland had the answer.
Trump cited the Finnish president as telling him Finns “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things (in the forest), and they don’t have any problem.”
However the Nordic country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper on Sunday that he had no recollection of raking being mentioned when the pair met in Paris a week ago.
“I told him that Finland is a country covered in forests, but we also have a good warning system and network,” the president said.
Finnish social media users were quick to pile in, describing Trump’s comments as “rake news” and posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.
By late Sunday, raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation which is 72 percent covered by forests, predominantly of pine, birch and fir.
Meanwhile Yrjo Niskanen, head of emergency preparedness at Finland’s national forest center, said the US president may have been referring to the practice of removing branches and loose material left in the forest after logging.
But he pointed out that this is not done with a rake — and the wood is collected for energy production.
“I’ve never thought before that it could be removed because of the fire risk, that’s not mentioned in any forestry manuals. It’s taken away purely for business reasons,” Niskanen told the Iltalehti newspaper.