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14 Feb


Count yourself lucky, because you most likely have the opportunity to enjoy your big, red roses, sweet ‘I Love You’ cupcakes, and decadent boxes of chocolate in peace and mushiness. Not everyone has that privilege!

On Monday, the Islamabad High Court in the Pakistani capital officially issued an order, banning all celebration of Valentine’s Day across the country, “with immediate effect.”

This order forbids the display of adverts in the media (both electronic and print) that even reference Valentine’s Day. It gets worse; the ban also prohibits the sale of all V-Day associated merchandise, as well as states that the day cannot be celebrated in “any public space or government building.”

Where did all this resistance come from? A citizen named Abdul Waheed, who believed that all celebration and promotion of Valentine’s is “against the teachings of Islam” and “should be banned immediately.”

Just in case any Pakistan citizens or visitors were considering disregarding the court orders and going ahead to show some love on Instagram, or attempt to share a heart-melting e-card, the court has requested Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to monitor all platforms and share any information that shows that the ban has been compromised.

The country’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, made a statement this month asking Pakistanis not to celebrate the day since it was “not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West” – and he has the support of a few tweeters.

It’s not just Pakistan; authorities in parts of Indonesia, home to some of Asia’s largest Muslim populations, ordered schools to prohibit students from celebrating Valentine’s Day. In other parts, such as Makassar, on the eastern Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, police have raided supermarkets and seized condoms, in an attempt to prevent young people from having sex today.

It’s not just the young and in-love who will suffer the consequences of this ban; some of the country’s business owners will feel the effect. Florist, Mohammad Naveed, who runs a roadside shop, told CNN he had invested nearly (the equivalent of) $2000 on buying flowers (mostly sourced abroad) in anticipation of February 14th.

“If they ban us from selling these [today] then it will be a disaster. We simply cannot afford this,” said Naveed.

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