Pakistan bans Valentine's Day for being unIslamic

Ban on the traditional Christian celebration of love follows a similar move by Saudi Arabia

Rachel Roberts
Monday 13 February 2017 16:31 GMT
Pakistan has banned all celebrations of Valentine's Day
Pakistan has banned all celebrations of Valentine's Day

Pakistan has become the latest country to ban Valentine's Day.

It has prohibited all public celebrations and any media coverage because the celebration is not part of Muslim traditions.

The ruling was handed down by the Islamabad High Court, following an unsuccessful attempt to ban the festival last year.

President Mamnoon Hussain urged Pakistanis not to observe Valentine’s Day, which he criticised as a Western import that threatened to undermine Islamic values.

“Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” he said at a ceremony last year.

The court passed its ruling to the ministry, federal government, chairman and chief commissioner, who are obliged to submit a response to the order within ten days.

The festival has seen its popularity increase in many cities in Pakistan in recent years, but religious groups have denounced it.

The order was in response to a private petition which argued the festival promotes immorality, nudity and indecency under the guise of celebrating love.

There have been localised bans of the festival by councils in previous years, although these are said to have been largely ignored.

Whether or not the national ban is implemented will depend largely on how the police, guided by the Government, decide to enforce it – in particular, whether they target shops selling Valentine’s cards and gifts.

Valentine’s Day evolved from a traditional Christian feast day and first became associated with romantic love during the 14th century, when the idea of courtly love flourished.

The first known romantic reference to the feast of St Valentine’s Day was made by Canterbury Tales author Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem Perlement of Foules, or the Parliament of Birds.

In 2015, Pakistan's top Islamic clerical body threatened to issue a fatwa against the sale of condoms following reports they were being sold together with chocolate to mark Valentine's Day.

Despite the objections from more pious Muslims, many Indonesians do celebrate the occasion, particularly in major cities where cards and chocolates to mark it are widely available.

The Pakistani ruling follows a protest against Valentine’s Day by students in Indonesia who believe the celebration encourages casual sex.

Teenagers in the Indonesian city of Surabaya chanted “Say no to sex” in the latest expression of anger towards the celebration in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Religious police in Saudi Arabia banned the sale of all Valentine’s Day goods in 2008, telling shops to remove all red items - a move which is said to have led to a black market in roses, wrapping paper and “red goods”.

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