Valentine's Day sparks celebrations, protests in Pakistan

Published: February 14, 2013

A sign board in Karachi says the Valentine's tradition reflects insensitivity, indignity and ignorance of Islam. PHOTO: EXPRESS

A photo showing an anti-Valentine's Day billboard in Karachi. PHOTO: PPI A sign board in Karachi says the Valentine's tradition reflects insensitivity, indignity and ignorance of Islam. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Some celebrated Valentine’s Day on Thursday with balloons and flowers, but others denounced the day as an insult to Islam.

In Karachi, billboards decorated with a black heart urged citizens to “SAY NO TO VALENTINE’S DAY”.

“This tradition reflects insensitivity, indignity and ignorance of Islam,” the signs read. They were put up by a group affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami.

“Valentine’s is against Islamic culture. In our view, relationships are sacred. We have arranged marriages in this culture and people don’t get married for love,” said Syed Askari, a spokesman for Jamaat-e-Islami. “This is imposing Western values and cultures on an Islamic society.

“Look at the West – people love their dogs but throw their parents out when they get old. We don’t want to be like that.”

In Peshawar, a handful of people burnt Valentine’s Day cards in front of television cameras on Monday. Women held signs denouncing the tradition.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) urged broadcasters to “respect viewers’ sentiments”.

“PEMRA has been receiving complaints from a large segment of society that Valentine’s Day celebrations are not in conformity with our religious and cultural ethos and has, therefore, condemned its unequivocal propagation through media,” the statement said.

But in Islamabad, hawkers selling heart-shaped balloons staked out street corners and florists were doing a brisk trade.

“Valentine’s Day is good for business,” said a grinning Mohammed Ajmar as he handed a customer a huge heart made of red roses and glitter.

“I’m happy with Valentine’s Day. The city if full of flowers and it looks nice,” said 21-year-old student Faateh Khan, who was buying roses for his mother. “Those people are just a minority of extremists acting up for the media,” he said of those making complaints.

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that the Valentine’s Day was celebrated on Wednesday. The error has been fixed. 

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Reader Comments (57)

  • Shaami
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:23PM

    I am on a visit in Germany right now and Here many even dont know that there is any Valentine day today and for most of the people it is just another day and since it is Germany and almost the middle of the week so it is another hard working day for office goers and nothing else. I switched on channels today in the hotel room and every activity is usual. Interestingly i can see Valentine Celebrations of Pakistani channels. Believe me Our nation is a time waster and for us Valentine day is another day to waste time on. I cannot understand how come people have so much time to squander to celebrate valentine or to protest against it. Kindly learn from developed nations and We as a Nation have prioritized non issues.

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  • Raza Khan
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:29PM

    Height of insanity! It’s all about love not only for your beloved but for your parents, brothers, sisters & friends. Please grow up!

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  • Honey
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:30PM

    Today we took pics under so called “Anti Valentine Day” billboard.

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  • Someone
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:34PM

    Doesn’t Islam Preach Love ?

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  • Feb 14, 2013 - 2:36PM

    @Shaami, thanks for sharing your experience. I agree with you that we as a nation like to waste time and also out hard earned money. Today flower sellers are charging three times more then normal day price but people ready to but them.

    Private TV channles show transmission just for the sake of rating and each one is following the other blindly without any research or soul searching.

    People of Pakistan in which ever field you are please learn from the past mistakes and also from other nations and move forward in a straight line rather then moving in a circle

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  • Zahra
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:47PM

    @Shaami:
    You cant compare Germany with Pakistan. They has so many outlets to vent out their feelings, they go clubbing on weekends, to bars for everything from birthdays to dates – when do pakistani’s get to experience any joy? We live in an enforced society, where your actions have to be dependent on religion..thats not fair. Basant is taken away from us due to a religious lobby, all the events that made Pakistan lovely has slowly been taken away from us. People need outlets, its natural for teenagers and young adults to experiment with things, everyone in the world does it. The problem with your argument is that you fail to see what other things the west does – i would suggest that we take the good qualities of the west (there professionalism, there hardwork etc) and combine it with east ( joy, fun, a bit more relaxed). Something we used to be before 2000. If you dont agree with my argument, then give youth jobs and education – something for them to do. These small things, like blocking youtube, banning Valentines, etc are not going to solve anything, only going to sweep in the issues under the rug.

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  • UHS
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:51PM

    @Shaami:
    Very well said. Can’t understand why we are always at the extreme ends of things. Celebrating this day as well as protesting against it are equally time wasting activities.

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  • BBA
    Feb 14, 2013 - 2:52PM

    I completly agree. I am here in Istanbul and I read on the front news of Express Tribune, how they are covering the celebration, people writing blogs, floating idea… Here in Istanbul; which is one of the prime spot for Honeymoon; I dnt see people going all craxy about this event.
    Actually the literate class has made it clear in thier mind that who ever want to celebrate can do it personally; and the illiterate who dnt have much to do; has and will always poke the nose in the literate people lifestyle … and make a big fuzz about such stuff…

    Our country never understood what is meant by live and let other live… Our nation priortise on changing the spelling of SINDH to SIND and why Mr. Nawaz shareef didnt want to meet Mr. 100%.

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  • Zubair
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:13PM

    Yep, you are absolutely right. I live in Germany and people are concentrating on their day to day activities rather than on this commercial stunt.

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  • Pakistan
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:14PM

    @Shaami: Switching channels of TV what a hard worker you are.

    If channels are showing Valentine Celebarations on TV whats the issue with you, TV is thier bread and butter they are showing what peoples wants to watch, and those who celebrating Vlantine Day its their personal issue who are you to criticize them.
    Live your life as you wish and let others do that too.

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  • Awais
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:15PM

    “ISLAMABAD: Some celebrated Valentine’s Day on Wednesday with balloons and flowers, but others denounced the day as an insult to Islam.”

    Dont you think that the 14th of February is on Thursday?

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  • THE
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:27PM

    @Shaami: Totally agreed with you. I lived in the US for almost a decade and only saw the muslims celebrating Eid. There are extremes of everything in Pakistan and that’s the reason for many ills in the society.

    You love your mother everyday, not just on mother’s day!
    You love your father everyday, not just on father’s day!
    You love your wife everyday, not just on valentine’s day!

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  • Green Tiger
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:29PM

    I totally agree with Shaami. What difference its going to make if someone celebrates or doesnt celebrat valentines day? Who cares. Get along with life and work. Thats it.

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  • ahmer
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:45PM

    For jamaat, chopping peoples hand and feet and cutting off their heads and inciting violence is more sacred. For them, poking their noses in others business is more important. If you dont like it, dont do it, but dont tell me what to do.

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  • Adnan
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:57PM

    Adnan reporting from UK, agree with Shaami, have not seen the craziness which i see when I switch Pakistani TV channels. People in our home country get carried away by hype created by media. Last night I was watching Pakistan TV channels and its seems that in all the morning shows and other entertainment shows they are celebrating a national event or its Eid day. People wearing red and in jubilation like that its and event which has origins in Pakistan. No harm in celebrating this day but for God sake do not be so overwhelmed by the day.

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  • Khan of Cape Town
    Feb 14, 2013 - 4:01PM

    Cape Town is sad because of Oscar Pistorous incident today. He has been the most revered athlete in the country’s history. Today, he killed his girlfriend seemingly due to security reasons. Heartbreaking news for Valentine celebrating people.

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  • fresh
    Feb 14, 2013 - 4:04PM

    On Valentine’s Day Live Morning Shows transmissions on Pakistani Channels are suffering from western culture affects the youth of Pakistan especially by changing their thoughts, minds, beliefs, cultural values and daily life style.

    I request media representatives to take appropriate measures to handle this worst situation and make media policy followed by all channels.

    Our youth is an asset and future of ours so we pay special attention on youth. Our channels should produce and broadcast quality programs that could help in the promotion of Pakistani values and traditions and improve the image of Pakistan at international level.

    Rather, 14th February should celebrate as “Hijab (Scarf) Day” in Islamic World, to signify the importance of “Sharai Parda”. This is the correct answer of the Valentine’s Day.

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  • Feb 14, 2013 - 4:09PM

    there is no need to waste time on this discussion. its a clear divide between those who want Islam to be established as driving force behind their affairs (may it be personal, social or political) and those who want this society to have a secular outlook. For those ppl who take this day as simple as an event to express LOVE, are simply ignorant, nothing else. I wonder, as if such things were so important for society, then why Islam didn’t spell out such need, when it covered minutest details of our lives. Its simple,, I DO NOT NEED ANY WESTERN TRADITION TO EXPRESS MY LOVE TO MY WIFE OR ANYONE ELSE,,,, Islam never stops to love any of your legitimate relationship, it rather advocates Rights + Love, but one does not have to make such issues public. u have bet with me, if we continue this way, time is not far when we will hear some voices from some segment of society calling for gay rights in “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. i do not need to ponder upon that how many serious, mature and composed people around us celebrate this event and how important this is for our growth as society

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  • S
    Feb 14, 2013 - 4:11PM

    Valentines day is indeed against our morals and religious values. We must stop it.

    Its a shame that people for making moeny are willing to sell thier moral and are willing to corrupt the nation. Hence there needs to be economic progress, with economic progress and alternative income means this will reduce too.

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  • Feb 14, 2013 - 4:13PM

    only media is giving importance to valentine… people does not care about this day

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  • NAR
    Feb 14, 2013 - 4:29PM

    If you don’t feel like you can ever love something/someone then just keep your sad life to yourself. Don’t try to enforce your ideas based on ignorance on other people. Live and let live.Recommend

  • Khan
    Feb 14, 2013 - 4:33PM

    When will you people grow up? Is it shameful or loathsome or illegal or anti-Islamic to sell flowers? to express love? to get out of your daily work-life to watch a special V-day program on tv? Do not be so quick to pass judgments on how wasteful and loathsome all the V-day activities are. For once think about those small entrepreneurs who wait all year around for V-day to sell heart-shaped balloons, flowers, etc. at high prices and earn a little extra. It’s their bread and butter, for god’s sake.

    Please do not seek to destroy what little we have to celebrate. If we cannot celebrate love we are society full of hate and hatemongers. We don’t want that.

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  • sad
    Feb 14, 2013 - 4:54PM

    yae sb pagal pana hay if any buddy want to enjoy then he/she is not bound to any particular day this is the which have a particular background and if u want to know then please search in google as a background/history of this day

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  • Stranger
    Feb 14, 2013 - 5:12PM

    India and Pak should do same pinch on this subject. on both sides of the border we have fanatics and self styled keepers of some or the other religion who oppose such days. Valentine’s day is just a day to show affection. Whats wrong with it .

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  • Munna
    Feb 14, 2013 - 5:25PM

    Turkey, Marocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia! Have you been in these muslim countries dear friends? These happen to be the most prospourous muslim countries(Along with oil rich countries such as SA, UAE, Qatar etc).

    Common for all those mentioned first is freedom. You have the possibility to celebrate New Year, Valentine, Christman..and drink alcohol IF YOU WANT! You are grown up. NO ONE will interfare in your business!

    In Pakistan..no no my friend.i am going to watch you and i am going to tell you what do do because i fear you are not a good enough muslim! If i take your freedom of choice i will get bonuspoint in heaven!

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  • worth
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:00PM

    :
    I personally don’t understand why people are this much crazy about this day, this is a normal day like all other days. Indulging oneself in such un-ethical activities is totally against the codes of morality.As far as loving with our mom , dad, brothers and sisters is concerned, it is not confined to a day or 2 ,but is connected to our whole life.

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  • MR.
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:05PM

    @Huh??:
    don’t use Islam to prove your quotations .This is NOT AT ALL IN LINE WITH ISLAM AND MORALITY.

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  • Munna
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:24PM

    We need more days like these. People have nothing. Just watch whats happening in Lahore. Thousands are taking the bus back and forth several times! Hahaha

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  • Toba Alu
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:31PM

    Sorry Jamaat-e-Islami, Valentinus predates Islam by hundreds of years. During that period in the Roman Empire Christians were not allowed to marry. If you can read do read before you open your mouth.

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  • cautious
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:42PM

    Never a shortage of people who want to tell you how to run your life — if you don’t want to buy flowers and give you wife/girlfriend a kiss then don’t — but do it silently.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:44PM

    @ Shami, In west people dry up their resources on Christmas and New Year. In Feb what they get credit cards bills and phone calls from banks. This is the reason they work in Feb like dogs. In these circumstances, there is no time for celebrations. However on this day they give presents to their very close loved ones, a nice dinner and spend night with them. This is the reason you don’t see celebrations similar to Christmas and New Year. The things you don’t see, doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

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  • Toba Alu
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:46PM

    @MR.:
    Which Islam please? Likely only yours?

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  • RAW is WAR
    Feb 14, 2013 - 6:49PM

    crap

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  • Shezad
    Feb 14, 2013 - 7:06PM

    @Zahra: u should be aware of the power of technology. If A single USB drive can store 180 million people database. Then how much an additional person in Taliban’s hitlist would require ?…. Answer is: a few bytes and 2 bullets… Lol

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  • BILL
    Feb 14, 2013 - 7:39PM

    I bet it’s really fun in Pakistan. I think I’ll vacation there.

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  • Munna
    Feb 14, 2013 - 7:50PM

    @BILL:

    If you stick to the West side of the big cites youll have a good time. Remember its a huge country. Much bigger then France for instance..

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  • Huh??
    Feb 14, 2013 - 8:07PM

    oops double post!!

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  • Mehboob
    Feb 14, 2013 - 8:18PM

    During my stay in London, I was shocked to know that people don’t know about valentines day, april fool day and they don’t follow the horoscopes. I want to ask this question “WHOM WE ARE REALLY FOLLOWING”.

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  • Karchitte
    Feb 14, 2013 - 8:31PM

    @Shaami:
    Maybe U live in one of the very boring parts in Germany and with obsolete TV which does not have many channels
    Get a life loser Celebrating valentines day is a question of personal decision……….not as u described it time waste

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  • Hammad Mian
    Feb 14, 2013 - 8:32PM

    Question to Liberal finatics.
    Does your Islam teach you to express your love on one specific day only ?

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  • MR
    Feb 14, 2013 - 8:36PM

    @Huh??:
    Hey ! YOU MUST HAVE READ THE COMMENT OF worth.
    Don’t be narrow-minded. Think broad mindedly . Islam never allows free mixing of men and women. If such would have been true, then why would there be separate parks,universities and mosques for women????????????????

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  • raj786
    Feb 14, 2013 - 8:39PM

    @Zahra:
    Good one :-)

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  • Nouman
    Feb 14, 2013 - 9:23PM

    Why dont these ‘protestors’ stop wasting everyone’s time and do something fruitful for society. Focus on real issues of faith and not this superficial nonsense. Try keep yourself and your neighborhood clean. Treat yourself and others fairly. Try and make an honest living.

    Let me know if you have time left after that and I have a few more suggestions for you.

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  • Umar
    Feb 14, 2013 - 10:26PM

    @shaami I think it’s to divide the muslim ummah from US’s side.
    @Zahra my dear sister I think many people are agree with your statement many pakistan womens, childrens, old people, have been tourched with animals as taliban who are killing many sisters. Insha’allah I will remember you in our dua and will definetly do something for them.

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  • Jamshed
    Feb 15, 2013 - 12:18AM

    @MR:
    “Don’t be narrow-minded. Think broad mindedly . Islam never allows free mixing of men and women. If such would have been true, then why would there be separate parks,universities and mosques for women????????????????”strong text

    What you are saying is not broad minded in any sense. What you are mentioning is myopic Saudi culture where they dont ask men and women to mix. Where has it ever been forbidden??? I hope you are not quoting your maulvi sahib? When you prevent the genders from mixing, you get horrific problems. Recently Ikea in Saudia removed women from images in its furniture catalog. That shows that there is something wrong with their society where they wont punish the wrongdoers or criminals but will suppress the victims till they cannot be seen.Recommend

  • Yasir Mian
    Feb 15, 2013 - 12:36AM

    I don’t know what happened to these so called desi liberal confused muslims who are just following West blindly.

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  • BILL
    Feb 15, 2013 - 1:29AM

    @Munna:
    Dude! I was joking. I like having my head attached to the rest of me.

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  • Javed
    Feb 15, 2013 - 2:37AM

    Please read the reality of Valentines day http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine's_Day

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  • Atheist
    Feb 15, 2013 - 2:39AM

    @Hammad Mian , why do you have specific days for religious festivals? Why not celebrate them everyday? How long you people live by rules instead of a philosophy?

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  • eol11
    Feb 15, 2013 - 6:08AM

    @Zahra: what happened after 2000? forgive my ignorance pls.

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  • eol11
    Feb 15, 2013 - 6:51AM

    @Shezad: are you threatening her? comments like this should be banned from this site

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  • shah
    Feb 15, 2013 - 7:25AM

    @Huh??:
    You’re still not understanding the concept of worth and MR.. Their arguments are totally well-defined and concrete….

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  • Ana
    Feb 15, 2013 - 8:47AM

    The fact is Valentines is more a commercial globalised event promoted by capitalists… We drive cars like western people..why not go back to riding camels? The fact is that it is a great economic oppurtunity in PK.. These poor flower boys make so much money.. similarly, these banner walas make money writing anti-Valentine slogans.. Bottom-line is — in an economically depressed society, it is a good source of income for many poor people…

    After basant banning, thousands of people associated with the trade have become unemployed and forced to beg… If we want begging to end, then we have to become a lil more consumerists

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  • maestro
    Feb 15, 2013 - 9:02AM

    @S:
    You have a problem expressing love to someone? If there is one day in a YEAR that one can openly express his or her love for each other, thats a problem? And btw, Valentine Day expression of love extends to friends, family and all near and dear. Show me where in Islam it says we are not allowed to express our love. Show me you blind ignorant fool.

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  • New trends
    Feb 15, 2013 - 2:46PM

    @Ana:
    Anything that is not against Shariah is Permissible . For eg .Voice recording , use of microphone.

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  • Azeema
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:20AM

    @Zahra:
    Well said Zahra!

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  • Nobody
    Feb 16, 2013 - 2:10PM

    @BILL:
    Um yeah because people are walking around picking people off the streets at random and beheading them in Pakistan. eyeroll I hope you’re not as stupid as your comment makes you sound. If so, best of luck to ya.

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