Valentine's Day banned
Officials said celebrating it would be the same as promoting faiths other than IslamReuters

Love for Valentine's Day went unrequited in the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, where officials and clerics barred people from celebrating it.

Claiming the annual homage to romance runs against Islamic teachings and promotes the spreading of "decadent" western values, the highly-influential Indonesian Council of Clerics said it was an observance from another faith. Celebrating it, they said, would be the same as promoting faiths other than Islam.

In Banda Aceh, the capital of the devout Muslim province of Aceh, thousands of high school students held rallies rejecting the celebration of Valentine's Day. They were joined by the city's mayor Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal who said that "the Valentine's Day celebration has become a culture".

It was a similar story in Pakistan, where the country's president Mamnoon Hussain told a group of students that the festival has no connection with Pakistani culture and should be avoided. He said that a blind following of western traditions will lead to a degradation of "our values", and has led to several problems including increase in attacks against women in a neighbouring country. His comments came some local governments in country told police to stop shops from selling Valentine's Day cards and items while other passed resolutions to ban it.

Kohat district administrator Maulana Niaz Muhammad told the BBC Urdu: "Valentine's Day has no legal grounds, and secondly it is against our religion, therefore it was banned."

Saudi Arabia has also sought to stamp out Valentine's Day, but it is celebrated widely in nearby places like Dubai. Local media in Iran also reported that police had informed coffee shops and ice cream parlours that they would be guilty of committing a crime if they encouraged "decadent Western culture through Valentine's Day rituals".

Tradition says Valentine's Day is named after an early Christian martyr but little is reliably known about the saint other than that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome on 14 February. It is also uncertain whether St Valentine was one saint or the conflation of two saints of the same name.