Authorities in areas of Indonesia and Pakistan, home to Asia’s largest Muslim populations, banned Valentine’s Day celebrations on Tuesday. Officials asserted that the romantic tradition encouraged casual sex and countered cultural norms.
In Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, schools prohibited students from celebrating Valentine’s Day. Police raided convenience stores in Makassar and seized condoms in an effort to prevent teenagers from having sex.
A Makassar police official claimed, “These raids were done after we received reports from residents that the minimarts were selling condoms in an unregulated way, especially on Valentine’s Day.”
Valentine’s Day has been forbidden in Indonesia by Islamic law since 2012 when their highest Islamic clerical council ruled that the celebration was contradictory to Muslim culture and teachings.
But the vast majority of Indonesia’s more than 220 million Muslims are moderate Islamists, and the country also has sizable populations of Christian and Hindu minorities. Indonesia’s secular state ideology reveres religious diversity.
In Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and other parts of the country, the popularity of Valentine’s Day has grown with retailers looking to cash in on the romantic holiday.
An Islamabad court banned public Valentine’s Day celebrations in the capital city of the Islamic republic of Pakistan, and ordered the media to “ensure that nothing about the celebration of Valentine’s Day and its promotion is spread.”
Muslims in Britain give their opinions on Valentines day. Can you feel the love? ❤?❤ pic.twitter.com/BCx0oxerWg
— Ulster Crusader (@Ulster_Crusader) February 14, 2017
In other Asian countries, authorities embraced Valentine’s Day, imposing preemptive measures to protect festivities and even encouraging sex.
Concerned about its falling birth rate, Thailand’s government distributed vitamins to married couples to try to encourage them to have children.
In Bhubaneswar, capital of Odisha state, security was increased in public areas including parks, theaters and malls to prevent violence by anti-Valentine’s-Day activists, Deputy Commissioner of Police Satyabrata Bhoi told Reuters.
The Hindu-nationalist Shiv Sena party In Mumbai dropped its earlier opposition to Valentine’s Day after activists in past years beat couples spending the day together.
“We are neutral about Valentine’s Day,” said Shiv Sena spokesman Neelam Gorhe. “As far as this year is concerned, we have asked cadres not to give any violent reaction.”
— reFocusZone (@reFocusZone) February 14, 2017
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2017
Below is a video of Muslims holding a serious protest against Valentine’s Day two years ago. Country unknown, but the message is clear.
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