A Pakistan university will celebrate “Sisters’ Day” on February 14 instead of Valentine’s Day in an effort to promote “Islamic traditions,” rejecting what is widely seen as a Western import in the Muslim-majority country.
The University of Agriculture in Faisalabad (UAF), in central Punjab province, wants to promote “eastern culture and Islamic traditions among the youth” in lieu of the traditional day for displaying love and affection as celebrated elsewhere in the world.
“In our culture, women are more empowered and earn their due respect as sisters, mothers, daughters and wives,” UAF vice chancellor Zafar Iqbal is quoted as saying on the institution’s website.
“We were forgetting our culture, and Western culture was taking root in our society,” he continued.
“UAF was mulling a plan to distribute scarves, shawls and gowns printed with the UAF insignia among female students” on February 14, the statement on the website added.
Valentine’s Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, with many taking up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to mark the occasion.
But the country remains a deeply traditional Muslim society where women struggle for their individual rights, and many disapprove of any efforts to allow Western culture to impinge on the country’s perceived Islamic national identity.
Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain even went so far as to tell a crowd of students in 2016 to focus on their studies instead.
In 2017, the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day in public places, and prohibited all electronic and print media from covering any festivities or mentioning of the occasion.
Pakistan is not the only Muslim country cracking down on the Western—and originally Christian—feast day in commemoration of Saint Valentine.
As Breitbart reported, the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh has also banned celebrations of Valentine’s Day, contending that the holiday violates Islamic law. The province of Aceh is the only region of the country ruled by Sharia law.
“Our society and the Muslim youth should certainly not be celebrating non-Islamic holidays,” declared Mayor Illiza Saaduddin Djamal. “The law says it is haram. The government is obliged to protect the public and younger generation from unlawful acts.”
The Indonesian ban extends to gifting flowers and chocolates to loved ones, as well as public displays with Valentine’s Day decorations.
AFP contributed to this report
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