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Pakistan court prohibits Valentine's Day celebrations

[JURIST] The Islamabad High Court [official website] ruled [Dawn report] Monday that all public celebrations of Valentine's day are prohibited with "immediate effect." The prohibition will affect government offices, private businesses and media sources. Print and electronic media have been ordered to cease all "Valentine's Day promotions immediately" lest they are reported to the police by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority [official website]. The High Court ruling came about as a result of a petition by Abdul Waheed who argued that Valentine's Day promotions on mainstream and social media are "against Islamic teachings and should be banned immediately." Implementation of the Valentine's day ban will depend on its interpretation by police. So far, no retailers have seen any police enforcement.

This is nott the first time that Valentine's Day has come under fire in the Islamic Republic. Last year President Mamnoon Hussain [BBC profile] urged Pakistanis to forego Valentine's Day celebrations stating that they were not a part of Muslim tradition but adopted from the West. The president went on to say that the downsides of western culture have already "adversely affected one of our neighbouring countries." Also last year, vigilantes gathered to burn [BBC report] Valentine's Day cards, which they saw as a symbol of assimilation of Western ideas into Pakistani society. Many religious groups, like the Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami [party website], argue that Valentine's Day is not a romantic holiday but a sexual one with obscene undertones.

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