|Protest in Karachi, 2012|
Because Valentine's Day is banned in Saudi Arabia.
Because it is viewed as a Christian religious holiday, and as we all know the oh-so tolerant Saudi Kingdom doesn't allow anyone to publicly celebrate any religious holiday other than Islamic ones. The bizarre thing is no-one, anywhere, attributes any religious connotation to the holiday, these days. I actually forgot it was also called Saint Valentine's Day because it's a term that is rarely used, opting for the more secular term Valentine's Day. Although it's probably consumerism at its worst, it's a relatively harmless holiday, and certainly not religious.
But it's not just the Saudis that ban V Day. While most of the world enjoys participating in a pretty innocuous celebration of love, the usual kill joys have, as expected, popped up in places like Pakistan, where some believe it's un-Islamic. Right, because Mohammed told his followers not to send someone some roses and chocolates to demonstrate their undying love for that person.
During the week, Some Pakistanis celebrated Valentine’s Day with balloons and flowers, but others denounced the holiday as an insult to Islam.And to show just how insulted they were, women in Peshawar burned Valentine's cards, because burning things is fun, and being hateful is far more appealing to them than embracing love.
In the port city of Karachi, home to 18 million people, billboards decorated with a black heart urged citizens to “SAY NO TO VALENTINE'S DAY,” Reuters reported.
“This tradition reflects insensitivity, indignity and ignorance of Islam,” the signs read. They were put up by a group affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party that holds six of 342 legislative seats told Reuters.
“Teenagers see it as a time to express love and affection and they often end up in sex parties, like in the West.”
According to Syed Askari, a spokesman for Jamaat-e-Islami, “Valentine’s is against Islamic culture. In our view, relationships are sacred. We have arranged marriages in this culture and people don’t get married for love.”
“This is imposing Western values and cultures on an Islamic society,” he added.
The spokesman derided the West, warning that Muslim countries shouldn’t turn like them.
“Look at the West - people love their dogs but throw their parents out when they get old. We don't want to be like that.”
Indonesian conservatives believe the same thing, that celebrating Valentine's Day leads to premarital sex and "sex parties". I don't ever recall sex parties after receiving V Day cards in my youth. But conservative Indonesians are convinced, so Valentine's Day was banned in the conservative regions.
The Head of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in Depok, Habib Idrus Al Gadhri, declared the day “haram” (forbidden) for Muslims, claiming it is part of the culture of “infidels.”That didn't stop hotels and businesses in Indonesia from participating in the festivities.
“It’s Western culture and immoral so it's ironic Muslims celebrate it,” he said.
In Eastern Java, young girls decided to change February 14 to "headscarf day", and while carrying banners with “Valentine, Infidel Culture”, they handed out information on why both sexes should dress modestly.
In other places, including the more cultured and moderate Islamabad, business was booming.
“Valentine’s Day is good for business,” said grinning Mohammed Ajmar to Reuters as he handed a customer a huge heart made of red roses and glitter.
Even in Iran, where the holiday is banned because of its Western roots, people were celebrating, in spite of the threat of sanctions and shops being shut down for selling red roses.
It's an international day of love, which this world needs more of.
IB Times discusses the countries which frown upon or outright ban the holiday.