‘Decadent Western Culture’: Iran Cracks Down on Valentine’s Day


The Iranian government has reminded people that Valentine’s Day is banned because it promotes Western culture and rituals.

Officials also told businesses they cannot promote “decadent Western culture through Valentine’s Day rituals.” The coffee shops received warnings “to avoid any gatherings in which boys and girls exchange Valentine’s Day gifts.”

Iran first cracked down on Valentine’s Day in 2009, after the Green Revolution protested Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second term. The government banned “symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses and any activities promoting” Valentine’s Day. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Iranian state has pronounced against unauthorized mingling of the sexes, rap music, rock music, Western music, women playing in bands, too-bright nail polish, laughter in hospital corridors, ancient Persian rites-of-spring celebrations (Nowrooz), and even the mention of foreign food recipes in state media. This last may sound comically implausible, but it was officially announced by a state-run website on Feb. 6. So now the true nature of pasta as an instrument of Western subversion has been revealed.

In 2010, the government provided a list of approved hairstyles for Muslim men. They banned long hair, ponytails, and mullets since the youths don “decadent Western cuts.”

“The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians’ complexion, culture and religion, and Islamic law,” explained Jaleh Khodayar, who ran the Modesty and Veil Festival. “We are happy that the Islamic republic of Iran’s government has backed us in designing these hairstyles.”

The Ministry added spiky haircuts to the list last May “because they imply devil-worship.” They also outlawed tattoos.

“Devil worshipping hairstyles are now forbidden,” retorted Mostafa Govahi, the head of Iran’s Barbers Union. “Any shop that cuts hair in the devil worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their licence revoked.”

Last month, the Culture Ministry censored the word “wines,” names of “foreign animals,” and “dignitaries from any books published in the Islamic Republic.”

Mohammad Selgi, head of book publishing at the Ministry of Culture stated:

When new books are registered with us, our staff first have to read them page by page to make sure whether they require any editorial changes in line with promoting the principles of the Islamic revolution, effectively confronting the Western cultural onslaught and censoring any insult against the prophets.

Selgi added, “Words like wine and the names of foreign animals and pets, as well as names of certain foreign presidents are also banned under the new restricting regulations.”

The Indonesian city of Banda Aceh has banned celebrations of Valentine’s Day this weekend, arguing the holiday violates Islamic 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 law forbids everyone from gifting flowers and chocolates to loved ones. Businesses cannot display Valentine’s Day decorations.

The local police will monitor the streets and businesses on Sunday. Authorities will “re-educate” anyone who violates the law.

Pakistani Minister for the Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also banned the holiday in the capital city of Islamabad, threatening “strict action” against anyone who celebrates the romantic day. Officials said the holiday is an “insult to Islam.”