The Pakistani Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued an order to immediately prohibit the celebration of Valentine’s Day in public spaces and government offices across the country.
Referring to the ban, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, one of the many politicians who reject the holiday, said that Valentine’s is “not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West,” reports the Express.
CNN explains, “The order prohibits the display of adverts on electronic and print media that reference Valentine’s Day, bans the sale of associated merchandise and states that the day cannot be celebrated in ‘any public space or government building.’”
A petition by a man named Abdul Waheed prompted the ban. Waheed claims Valentine’s Day goes “against the teachings of Islam and should be banned immediately.”
“The petition had further called for a ban on the celebration of Valentine’s Day in public places, stating that under the ‘cover of spread of love in fact, immorality, nudity and indecency is being promoted which is against our rich culture,’” explains Dawn.
In response to the Valentine’s Day ban, Islamabad’s court has ordered Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to monitor social media platforms and report any information.
Efforts to ban Valentine’s Day are not unprecedented in Pakistan.
“A day before Valentine’s Day, the Federal Ministry of Information, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and the Islamabad High Commission were told by Justice Shaukat Aziz, who was hearing the case, to submit their replies regarding the immediate execution of the court’s orders,” notes Dawn.
“Print and electronic media have also been warned to ‘stop all Valentine’s Day promotions immediately,’ while PEMRA has been ordered to monitor all mediums and send out notifications banning any related promotions,” it adds.
Valentine’s Day fuels controversy every year in Pakistan given the holiday’s deep western roots.
In Pakistan, Valentine’s Day is seen by some as amoral and an appropriation of Western culture.
Resistance against it is not completely unusual. Religious groups like the Islamic political party Jamat-E-Islamic have often protested against marking Valentine’s Day in the country and hold rallies annually against the celebration on February 14
In 2016, President Hussain urged Pakistanis to skip the holiday, saying that it was a Western tradition, not Muslim.
“Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” the Pakistani president said, adding that the downsides of Western culture had “adversely affected one of our neighboring countries.”