As most of the world celebrated Valentine’s Day with flowers and heart-shaped balloons, Pakistani conservatives marked the date with protest against the “immorality” seemingly promoted by the occasion.
Anti-Valentine’s billboards with slogans that read “Say no to Valentine’s Day” were found across the port city of Karachi, denouncing the “western-inspired” holiday for “spreading vulgarity” in the country, according to The Associated Press.
“This tradition reflects insensitivity, indignity and ignorance of Islam,” the signs read.
Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party, says that Valentine’s imposes Western culture and values that “are eating away the fabric of Pakistan’s traditional, Islamic society,” adding that it is not a Pakistani holiday and not part of its culture.
It also said the loved-up day encourages illicit relations between young people.
“Valentine’s is against Islamic culture. In our view, relationships are sacred. We have arrange marriages in this culture and people don’t get married for love,” said Syed Askari, a spokesman for Jamaat-e-Islami.
For them, Valentine’s is merely a date. “In Islam, there is a concept of respecting and loving mother, sister, wife and daughter for 365 days a year,” Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a hardline Pakistani cleric, said.
Swathes of flowers and red balloons gave way that romance is not lost in the country.
“Here in this part of Pakistan we are faced with bomb blasts, and we don’t have much opportunity to enjoy and celebrate so to me it is one of those few occasions to celebrate,” said Taimur Hassan, a 29-year-old man, who was out buying a gift for his girlfriend.