WASHINGTON – A Pakistani court has banned public celebrations of Valentine’s Day in the capital Islamabad, as other Asian countries are discouraging people from marking the day that celebrates lovers.
The Islamabad High Court’s order on Monday prohibits all Valentine’s Day festivities in government offices and public spaces, effective immediately. The order also directs the media not to promote or cover Valentine’s events.
The mandates were a response to a private petition that argued Valentine’s Day was contrary to Islamic teaching. The petition said the celebration was being to spread “immorality, nudity and indecency … which is against our rich traditions and values.”
The annual occasion is increasingly popular among young Pakistanis, many of whom give cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts.
The decision by the Islamabad court was the latest attempt by authorities in the conservative Muslim country to outlaw a celebration regarded by many as a vulgar Western import.
Last year, President Mamnoon Hussain had urged Pakistanis not to observe Valentine’s Day, which he said threatened to undermine Islamic values.
In Muslim-majority Indonesia, a group of students in the city of Surabaya protested the celebration, saying that it encourages casual sex.
“Say no to Valentine!” chanted the young teens, who included many girls wearing headscarves.
Meanwhile, authorities in Malaysia and Singapore warned lonely hearts looking for romance to beware of online love scams.
A joint operation conducted in several Malaysian states Feb. 6-8 resulted in the arrests of 27 suspects believed to be involved in cross-border Internet love scam syndicates, the Singapore Police Force announced Monday.
Among those arrested were 11 Nigerian nationals believed to have been involved in 108 such scams reported by victims in both Singapore and Malaysia.
Internet love scams in Singapore hit an all-time high last year, according to the Singapore police. There were 636 cases in 2016, up from 385 in 2015. The total amount lost was the highest by far at $24 million – double the $12 million that victims reported being scammed out of in 2015.