JHAWARIAN: An informal survey by media reporters and the district administration revealed that a vast majority of residents condemned Valentines Day celebrations in the area. Several administrators and clerics have threatened public floggings for anyone seen selling or purchasing a red rose on February 14.
“Islam condemns Valentine’s Day and boys presenting flowers to young girls is vulgar and goes against the norms of Islam,” said Maulvi Ibrahim, adding that clerics in the district had made announcements stating that anyone seen purchasing or selling red roses should be punished in public.
“There is no reason for such holidays to be celebrated in Pakistan as they go against our culture and cause ‘moral corruption,” he said. A conference was called by clerics to discuss the ‘problems’ associated with celebrating Valentines Day in Pakistan. “We should put a ban on selling anything red (roses, chocolates, heart shaped balloons) on February 14th,” said Mufti Nadeem Tabish.
A dispute reportedly broke out between the clerics regarding the origins of Valentines Day. Several clerics maintained that Valentines Day was a Jewish holiday and others stated that the custom of handing out roses had been derived from Hindu culture. “I see no harm in celebrating Valentines. Everyone here has been debating where the day comes from even though it is named after a Christian saint. The clerics are trying to paint Valentines Day as an Israeli conspiracy,” said a high school student Karim.
“Young boys and girls do not interact let alone hand each other presents in our culture and Valentine’s Day has become an excuse for such reprehensible behaviour,” said a district officer Mumtaz Haroon.
Police officer Bashir Awan said that no one would be allowed to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Jhawarian. “Strict action should be taken against people seen handing roses. They should be arrested,” said Haroon. Several university students and religious party workers have warned that anyone seen purchasing ‘red’ merchandise pertaining to Valentine’s Day would be beaten up in public. “We will see who dares promote this vulgarity,” said university student Razaq. “People say this day is about love and that it encourages us to express our feelings towards our loved ones. I don’t see what is wrong with that,” said a housewife Sadia.
“Our religion teaches us to love and respect our parents and elders the whole year round. This day is really about ‘young love’ and that is not something we will tolerate,” said Mufti Rehman, adding “This is a Jewish tradition, but we Muslims are celebrating it. The government should ban Valentine’s Day and we are drafting a petition in this regard.” Matiur Rehman said that Islam prohibited meetings between unacquainted men and women.
“Still on this day young boys and girls declare their love for each other.
This should not be allowed in an Islamic country,” he said. “I think that we need more days like Valentines Day as they put a smile on people’s. In such troubled times I don’t think there is anything wrong with talking about love,” said high school student Amina.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2011.