In a city of paradoxes, protests not just against Valentine’s Day but also its symbolism

Published: February 15, 2012

The protesters distributed pamphlets among the people about what they said was the history of Valentine’s Day. PHOTO: PPI

The protesters distributed pamphlets among the people about what they said was the history of Valentine’s Day. PHOTO: PPI Workers of Jamiat-e-Ulema chant slogans during a protest against Valentine’s Day. PHOTO: AFP 
Opposition to Valentine’s Day does not hamper the spirit of the occasion as roadside vendors sell heart-shaped balloons. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: While the love-struck were busy making reservations and buying gifts for Valentine’s Day, around 150 men on Monday protested against the event for encouraging ‘indecent’ activities. Then on Tuesday, the actual day, women from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan set fire to Valentine’s Day cards during their own protest.  

“Let them make fun of us for condemning a day, which symbolises love and affection,” said Shujauddin Sheikh, a central leader of the organisation. Sheikh was standing on a truck with loudspeakers, surrounded by men holding placards denouncing the day.

The media, especially Pakistani television channels, were targeted for airing special Valentine’s Day programmes, which according to the speakers encouraged young men and women to adopt an ‘alien culture’.

Sheikh shared his bewilderment for billboards along Shahrah-e-Faisal which were advertising hotel rooms. “Come and book rooms with a romantic atmosphere,” he cited an advertisement. “It’s unbelievable.”

He accepted that not many people will be persuaded to cancel their ‘dates’ because of their protest. “We can only use our tongues. The rest is up to Allah.”

Tanzeem-e-Islami, which aims to set up an Islamic governing system of Khilafat, advocates a strict Islamic code of life. The protesters distributed pamphlets among the people about what they said was the history of Valentine’s Day. They claimed that in Rome it was celebrated on February 15 as ‘Feast of the Wolf’ when young women would place their names in an urn, from which boys would randomly draw to discover their companion for a day, year or lifetime.  Sheikh elaborated that Muslims are not only being killed by US drone attacks, but also “cultural drone attacks” which corrupt the minds of Pakistani youth and lead them astray.

A few kilometres away at a hotel, restaurants were being decorated for Valentine’s Day as around 300 guests were expected after a successful weekend of early celebrations. “Valentine’s Day celebrations started on February 10 with a ball,” said Bushra Fazli, their public relations officer. “We received a tremendous response on our weekend room package for couples; Rs12,900 for the night with breakfast and complementary gifts.” On Tuesday, a live band performed for couples and complimentary photographs were taken, she said.

And thus, the paradoxes continued to register, with a protest organised outside a shopping mall in Clifton as vendors sold heart-shaped balloons and roses in full bloom nearby.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2012.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (10)

  • Feb 15, 2012 - 3:05AM

    They claimed that in Rome it was celebrated on February 15 as ‘Feast of the Wolf’ when young women would place their names in an urn, from which boys would randomly draw to discover their companion for a day, year or lifetime Kya baat hai!

    Recommend

  • MyHeartSpeaks
    Feb 15, 2012 - 10:34AM

    Thanks to Allah that I am Muslim and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s day.

    Recommend

  • JS
    Feb 15, 2012 - 11:50AM

    @MyHeartSpeaks
    You don’t celebrate living either

    Recommend

  • Concerned Citizen
    Feb 15, 2012 - 1:26PM

    And thus, the paradoxes continued to register, with a protest organised outside a shopping mall in Clifton as vendors sold heart-shaped balloons and roses in full bloom nearby.

    I feel this is a sign of an advancing society. Freedom of speech, a right that every citizen should have, and should excercise. The mullah’s are making their point on one side, and at the sametime the hotel is making their own point.

    Live and let live.

    Recommend

  • MyHeartSpeaks
    Feb 15, 2012 - 2:49PM

    @JS Thank you sir for your comment. I have several other things to do to celebrate living. And, I don’t find my living in celebrating Valentine. I can only say Good luck to you, bro.

    Recommend

  • sds
    Feb 15, 2012 - 2:51PM

    What these stupis savage and wild people are doing??? We will never leave stone age era!

    Recommend

  • Feb 15, 2012 - 3:58PM

    Is it a Sin to Celebrate Love ???
    if so the they are not HUMAN

    Recommend

  • JS
    Feb 15, 2012 - 5:43PM

    @MyHeartSpeaks…..i don;t need your wishes of good-luck “bro”…but i can see you need a proper lesson on what it means to be “muslim.” The first of which should be to open up your mind and not give a blanket statement which implies anyone celebrating valentines is not a good “Muslim.” Recommend

  • Faddy
    Feb 15, 2012 - 7:43PM

    What is wrong with it? They are protesting in peace for what is basically against Shariah, so what is bothering you people? We are already doing what we want to do, so let them do what they think is right! As it is said, A Muslim is also responsible to guide his brothers and sisters if they are committing any thing that is against Shariah.

    Recommend

  • Balma
    Feb 15, 2012 - 8:21PM

    I dont’ agree with the mullahs and mullahnees here, but I am waiting for the day when Pakistanis will start celeberating America’s Independence Day on 4th of July. I have already heard of Thanksgiving festivities in Pakistan:-) No kidding:-)
    Recommend

More in Sindh